Cubs beat Astros to avoid sweep

Friday, August 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ Rookie Mark Prior struck out 12 batters in six innings _ including seven in succession _ and Sammy Sosa hit his 41st homer as the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 6-4 Thursday to avoid a four-game sweep.

Prior, whose season high of 13 strikeouts was set Aug. 4 against Colorado, got his first six strikeouts during the streak on missed swings. The seven in succession tied the Cubs record shared by Jamie Moyer and Kerry Wood, and was three short of Tom Seaver's major league record.

Prior has 129 strikeouts in 100 innings since joining the Cubs earlier this season.

Fred McGriff hit his 475th career homer in the sixth against Kirk Saarloos (5-3) to tie Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 21st on the career list.

Padres 5, Mets 3

In New York, Tom Lampkin had three hits and two RBIs as San Diego capitalized on three New York errors to extend the Mets' longest home losing streak in 22 years.

The Mets have lost five consecutive games overall and eight in succession at Shea Stadium, falling a season-high four games below .500. It's New York's longest losing streak at home since the Mets dropped eight straight in August 1980 on the way to a 67-95 season.

Brett Tomko (6-8) took advantage of a lineup missing Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo to win for just the second time in 10 starts. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 33 chances.

John Thomson (7-10) lost his second consecutive start as a Met, allowing five runs _ three earned _ and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Diamondbacks 7, Reds 2

In Cincinnati, Randy Johnson recovered from a one-day illness and gave up only two hits in eight innings, striking out 11, as Arizona finished off a sweep of Cincinnati.

Johnson (18-4) allowed Brandon Larson's solo homer in the second but extended his winning streak to five games. The left-hander has been dominant during that stretch _ 41 innings, five runs, 59 strikeouts.

He lowered his ERA to 2.55, second-best in the National League behind Greg Maddux (2.51). Johnson's 18 wins are second in the majors to teammate Curt Schilling's 19.

The NL West leaders hit three homers off Ryan Dempster (7-12), including Steve Finley's three-run shot, as they won for the 19th time in 23 games. Mike Myers got his third save.

Trying to stay in the playoff race, the Reds acquired starter Shawn Estes from the New York Mets earlier in the day for two minor leaguers and two players to be named.

Dodgers 1, Expos 0

In Montreal, right fielder Shawn Green threw out the potential tying run at home plate to end the game as Los Angeles beat Montreal.

Omar Daal (10-6) and three relievers combined on a seven-hitter for the Dodgers, who earlier activated Kevin Brown from the 15-day disabled list.

Brown, who underwent surgery on his lower back two months ago, warmed up during the eighth and will be used as a reliever for now.

Eric Gagne got his 41st save in 44 opportunities as Los Angeles maintained its lead over San Francisco in the wildcard race.

The Dodgers scored the game's only run on Dave Roberts' RBI groundout in the third inning against Javier Vazquez (8-9).

Cardinals 11, Pirates 5

In Pittsburgh, pinch-hitter Eli Marrero hit a tiebreaking single and Tino Martinez added a three-run double in a six-run ninth inning as St. Louis beat Pittsburgh for its season-high sixth consecutive win.

The Cardinals extended their lead in the NL Central to four games over Houston by sweeping a four-game series in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1971.

The Pirates have lost six straight games, matching their season worst. They are a season-low 17 games under .500 at 52-69.

Steve Kline (1-1) got the victory despite giving up the tying run in the eighth. St. Louis won despite allowing a season-high 11 walks.

Mike Williams (1-4) took the loss.

Phillies 5, Brewers 0

In Philadelphia, Joe Roa scattered four singles over a career-high seven innings for his first win in more than five years as Philadelphia completed a three-game sweep of Milwaukee.

Bobby Abreu and Jeremy Giambi each hit a two-run homer off Ruben Quevedo (6-11) in the first inning for the Phillies, who have won four straight games.

Roa (1-1) struck out two and hasn't walked a batter in any of his four starts (22 innings) this season. His last victory came while pitching for the San Francisco Giants on June 14, 1997, at Anaheim.

Braves 3, Giants 3, 10 innings

In Atlanta, Chipper Jones hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning off Robb Nen before rain halted the game in the top of the 10th, leaving Atlanta and San Francisco with a draw.

The tie left the Giants one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL wildcard race. After a delay of 2 hours, 33 minutes, umpires finally gave up on trying to resume the game.

The game will be replayed only if it has a bearing on the postseason race, possibly on Sept. 23 _ when both teams have a scheduled day off _ or the day after the regular season ends. In any case, Thursday night's game is recorded officially as a tie, and all the stats count.

The Giants, playing the final game of their only series in Atlanta, hadn't had a tie since 1968. The Braves' previous tie came in 1989.

Jeff Kent hit a two-run homer for San Francisco.