National League Roundup


Friday, April 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Armando Benitez is making it awfully difficult for the New York Mets to get off to a good start.

The temperamental closer blew another ninth-inning lead Thursday night, giving up a two-out, two-run single to Juan Pierre that sent the Florida Marlins to a 4-3 home victory.

``To me it was a lucky hit,'' Benitez said.

Often the ire of Mets fans thanks to a history of postseason failures, the hard-throwing right-hander also squandered a save chance Sunday against Montreal when he served up a three-run homer to Jeff Liefer.

The Mets fell to 4-5 after coughing up their third late-inning lead this week, including the last two nights in Florida.

``We had the right man on the mound,'' manager Art Howe said. ``He's our closer. He's throwing well.''

In other NL games, it was: Pittsburgh 3, Milwaukee 1; Montreal 7, Chicago 1; Colorado 7, St. Louis 6; Atlanta 6, Philadelphia 2; Houston 4, Cincinnati 2; and San Francisco 2, Los Angeles 1.

Benitez (0-2) bristled at reporters after Sunday's loss at Shea Stadium, complaining that they only want to talk to him when he fails. He is 3-for-5 on save chances this season with a 7.11 ERA in 6 1-3 innings.

The latest collapse cost Tom Glavine a win after he threw six shutout innings. The Marlins rallied to score four times in the final two innings, capped by Pierre's big hit.

``The baseball gods are testing us early,'' New York's Cliff Floyd said. ``But we can't hang our heads on this. We have to let it go.''

Pierre finished 3-for-5, raising his average to .409, and has at least one hit in all 10 games _ a Marlins record to start a season.

Tim Spooneybarger (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for his first win with Florida.

Expos 7, Cubs 1

At Chicago, Tony Armas Jr. (2-1) pitched three-hit ball for seven scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 11 as Montreal avoided a three-game sweep.

Armas followed up Javier Vazquez's 14-strikeout performance in a 3-0 loss Wednesday. Montreal has 29 strikeouts in the past two games, a franchise record.

Vladimir Guerrero homered and drove in three runs for the Expos.

Pirates 3, Brewers 1

At Pittsburgh, Randall Simon hit a three-run homer in the first inning to support Jeff Suppan (2-0). The Pirates avoided a three-game sweep and won for the first time at home after starting 5-1 on the road.

Milwaukee lost its seventh in nine games, even though Ben Sheets (0-2) went the distance.

Rockies 7, Cardinals 6

At Denver, Todd Helton hit a solo homer and Jose Hernandez added a two-run shot off Steve Kline (0-1) in the eighth inning as Colorado rallied to beat St. Louis.

The Rockies also turned the first triple play in their history and won for the sixth time in seven games.

Braves 6, Phillies 2

At Philadelphia, Andruw Jones and Robert Fick homered as Atlanta bounced back from a lopsided loss.

After losing 16-2 on Wednesday, the Braves got a well-balanced effort, with six players knocking in runs and six pitchers holding the Phillies to just four hits.

Astros 4, Reds 2

At Houston, Jeriome Robertson (1-1) allowed two hits and struck out eight in seven innings for his first career victory. Craig Biggio set the NL record with his 31st leadoff home run.

Biggio homered against Danny Graves (0-2), breaking the NL mark set by Bobby Bonds. Rickey Henderson holds the major league record with 80 leadoff homers.

Octavio Dotel struck out all three batters in the eighth and Billy Wagner finished for his third save.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1

At San Francisco, rookie Kurt Ainsworth (2-0) pitched shutout ball into the ninth inning as the Giants matched the best start in franchise history with their ninth win in 10 games.

Manager Felipe Alou got his 700th career victory, and Marquis Grissom hurt his former team with his first homer for San Francisco. The Giants are 9-1 for the first time since moving West, matching the New York Giants' 9-1 start in 1938.

Tim Worrell earned his fourth save in five chances while filling in for injured closer Robb Nen. Hideo Nomo (1-2) threw seven solid innings but fell to 8-1 lifetime in San Francisco and was denied his 100th career victory.