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Lopez Homers Help Braves Beat Padres

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ATLANTA (AP) _ Javy Lopez isn't trying to hit two homers a game. It just keeps working out that way.

Lopez had his eighth two-homer game of the season, tying an Atlanta record, and Russ Ortiz became the first 17-game winner in the majors as the Braves defeated San Diego Padres 7-4 on Thursday night.

Lopez put the Braves ahead to stay in the second inning with a drive into the left-field seats. The Atlanta catcher went the opposite way in the eighth, hitting his team-leading 33rd homer.

Lopez's eighth multi-homer game tied Andres Galarraga's team record, set in 1998.

``Oh really? I didn't know that,'' Lopez said. ``I really don't try. It just seems to happen.''

Keeping with the theme for this Braves team, Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones also homered. Atlanta has 18 homers in its last eight games and 182 for the season, on pace to shatter the franchise record of 215.

In other NL games Thursday, it was: St. Louis 4, Pittsburgh 3; Los Angeles 6, Florida 4; Chicago 7, Houston 1; Philadelphia 4, Milwaukee 3; and Cincinnati 3, Arizona 2. The San Francisco-New York game at Shea Stadium was postponed due to the massive Northeast power failure.

Ortiz (17-5) allowed just five hits in seven-plus innings for his 10th win in 11 starts. He helped himself at the plate, too, capping a three-run sixth with an RBI single that gave the Braves a 5-1 lead.

``The biggest thing I'm happy about is giving these guys a chance to win every time out,'' Ortiz said. ``I take a lot of pride in that. And they're doing a great job of scoring runs and playing defense. If not, my numbers wouldn't be where they're at.''

Sheffield's homer extended his hitting streak to 18 games, tying a career high. Jones homered for the third game in a row _ all since his father, a former college coach, came to town to provide a few hitting tips for his slumping son.

``We've got to keep bringing him in,'' manager Bobby Cox said. ``Put him on the payroll.''

Rondell White hit a second-inning homer off Ortiz, who then cruised until the eighth. Ray King came on after the first two runners reached, only to give up a two-run double to pinch-hitter Lou Merloni. Kevin Gryboski allowed an RBI single to Phil Nevin that made it 6-4.

But John Smoltz, pitching for the first time since losing at St. Louis on Sunday, got the last four outs for his 43rd save in 46 chances.

``We didn't do much with Ortiz,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We fought back, got the winning run up. But against Smoltz, that's a tough task.''

San Diego starter Jake Peavy (9-9) surrendered only four hits in 5 1-3 innings, but three of them were homers. He lost for the fourth time in five decisions.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3

At Pittsburgh, Albert Pujols extended the majors' longest hitting streak this season to 28 games with a first-inning single that led to St. Louis' first run. The streak is the longest in the majors this season, and the Cardinals' longest since Ken Boyer's 29-game streak in 1959.

Garrett Stephenson (7-11) made his second straight strong start, limiting Pittsburgh to five hits over eight innings. Tino Martinez homered for St. Louis, which has won six of eight to tie Houston for first place in the NL Central.

Jeff D'Amico (7-12) allowed 10 hits and four runs in six innings.

Dodgers 6, Marlins 4

At Miami, Adrian Beltre and Jeromy Burnitz hit two-run homers for the Dodgers, and Eric Gagne extended his major-league record for consecutive saves at the start of a season.

Florida had beaten the Dodgers the previous two games with walk-off, extra-inning homers. But Gagne struck out the side on 10 pitches for his 40th save.

Kevin Brown (12-6), starting on three days' rest for the first time this season, pitched seven innings. Mark Redman (10-6) took the loss.

Cubs 7, Astros 1

At Chicago, Alex Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs, and five Cubs pitchers combined on a five-hitter.

The Astros gave up sole possession of the Central Division lead for the first time since July 9. They are tied with St. Louis and just a half-game ahead of the Cubs, who took three of four in the series.

Matt Clement (10-10) went 5 2-3 innings, and four Cubs relievers allowed one hit over the final 3 1-3. Houston's Jared Fernandez (1-2) gave up four runs in four innings.

Phillies 4, Brewers 3

At Philadelphia, Placido Polanco's solo homer sparked a three-run rally, and Mike Williams got his first save with the Phillies.

Randy Wolf (12-7) won for the first time since July 23, giving up two runs and six hits in seven innings. Wes Obermueller (0-4) gave up four runs and 10 hits in just 3 2-3 innings. The rookie is still looking for his first win in six career starts.

Reds 3, Diamondbacks 2

At Cincinnati, the Reds snapped a 16-game losing streak to Arizona, and Aaron Harang won his second straight start since being acquired from Oakland.

D'Angelo Jimenez and Sean Casey delivered clutch singles in Cincinnati's first victory over Arizona since May 21, 2001. Harang (2-0) allowed three hits and walked four in 6 1-3 innings.

Brandon Webb (7-6) is 0-4 in his last six starts.
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