McCann Helps Braves Inch Closer To Mets

Saturday, July 14th 2007, 2:45 pm
By: News On 6

Brian McCann is making his mark on the NL East pennant race. The Atlanta catcher hit two home runs to back seven shutout innings from Tim Hudson, and the Braves beat the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 on Friday night.

Atlanta has won 10 of 14 to pull within 1 1/2 games of first-place New York.

In New York, the Mets' John Maine gave up a grand slam to Brandon Phillips before retiring a batter and New York lost 8-4 to the Cincinnati Reds.

McCann, who homered and drove in four runs against San Diego in the last game before the All-Star break, has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last six games.

McCann said he has ``no idea'' how to explain his streak.

``That's why no one can perfect this game,'' he said. ``One day you feel terrible at the plate and not see one pitch, the next day you see the ball really, really good.''

McCann, coming off his second All-Star appearance, was 3-for-4.

In other games, it was: Chicago 6, Houston 0; Philadelphia 13, St. Louis 3; Washington 14, Florida 10; Colorado 10, Milwaukee 6; Arizona 8, San Diego 3; and Los Angeles 9, San Francisco 1.

Hudson (9-5) gave up five hits and walked one batter. He had four strikeouts and is 3-0 in his last four starts.

``He obviously was on top of his game,'' Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. ``He pitched very, very well.''

Said Hudson: ``It's what we needed to start off the second half.''

Andruw Jones and McCann hit back-to-back homers to start a six-run sixth inning that put the game out of reach after McCann hit a three-run shot in the first.

The Braves had seven hits in the big inning, knocking Pirates starter Ian Snell out of the game. Snell (7-6) gave up eight hits and seven runs _ four earned _ in five innings.

Frustrated by their underachieving offense, the Mets promoted Howard Johnson to hitting coach before the game and made Rickey Henderson their new first-base coach. The moves came after hitting coach Rick Down was fired during the All-Star break.

Lastings Milledge homered late for the Mets, 3-7 in July. After the game, Maine admitted he was unprepared coming out of the All-Star break.

``I didn't feel good all game. I didn't prepare at all. I didn't use the time. It's just bad,'' he said. ``I felt out of whack, out of sync. My windup was bad, breaking ball was bad, changeup was bad.''

Maine (10-5), who had won four consecutive starts, gave up a season-high seven runs _ four earned _ and six hits. He walked three.

Phillips' slam was his second in 11 days. He added an RBI double in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the sixth, matching his career high for RBIs.

``His offense, his defense, both have been extremely impressive,'' Mackanin said. ``He can run, he looks like he loves to play _ I'd take nine of him.''

It was an easy night for Reds starter Aaron Harang (10-2), who struck out eight in six innings to win his fifth straight decision. Alex Gonzalez added a two-run single and the Reds (37-53) improved to 6-2 since Mackanin replaced the fired Jerry Narron.

``Pete's doing a great job. He's just letting everybody go out there and play,'' Phillips said.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1

At San Francisco, Chad Billingsley (6-0) pitched six scoreless innings and Andre Ethier hit a three-run double in a six-run ninth to help Los Angeles win its ninth straight in San Francisco.

Barry Bonds stayed stuck at 751 home runs, four shy of Hank Aaron's home run record. He walked twice and grounded into two double plays.

Matt Cain (3-10) gave up three runs, two earned, and seven hits in five innings.

Cubs 6, Astros 0

At Chicago, Carlos Zambrano (11-7) allowed three hits over 6 2-3 innings and had two singles and an RBI to help the Cubs win for the 13th time in 17 games.

Jason Jennings (1-5) went 5 1-3 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs.

Nationals 14, Marlins 10

At Miami, Dmitri Young hit a three-run double to cap Washington's six-run fourth.

Young drove in four runs and the Nationals set a season high for runs and chased Florida starter Dontrelle Willis (7-8) after 3 2-3 innings.

Saul Rivera (3-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings in relief and allowed a run and three hits to pick up the win.

Phillies 13, Cardinals 3

At Philadelphia, Kyle Kendrick (4-0) had another effective outing and drove in two runs and the Phillies stayed at 9,999 losses.

Chase Utley had a homer, four hits and three RBIs, and Greg Dobbs also had four hits for the Phillies, who had a season-high 23 _ four shy of the team record.

Philadelphia rocked Cardinals starter Kip Wells (3-12) for five runs in the first inning and scored nine runs by the fifth.

Rockies 10, Brewers 6

At Milwaukee, Troy Tulowitzki and Yorvit Torrealba hit two-run homers in a decisive fifth inning for Colorado.

Jeff Francis (9-5) gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings to win his fourth straight decision.

Ryan Braun had two homers and drove in four runs for Milwaukee, which has lost six of seven. Carlos Villanueva (6-1) pitched three innings in relief and gave up five runs and three hits _ all home runs.

Diamondbacks 8, Padres 3

At Phoenix, rookie Jeff Salazar had three hits and made a spectacular catch to rob Brian Giles of a home run to help Arizona improved to 10-1 against Greg Maddux (7-7).

Doug Davis (6-10) allowed two runs in six innings. Arizona snapped a five-game losing streak.