Claudell Washington hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning at New York to give the Atlanta Braves a 6-3 victory over the Mets Tuesday night. The highlight, though, for the Braves was the pitching of Bruce Sutter.
Sutter, being brought back slowly from surgery, pitched three scoreless innings to register his second save of the season.
Before Sutter signed with the Braves as a free agent before last season, most baseball experts rated him the best reliever. But nothing went right for the veteran who specializes in a split-finger fastball.
Although he had 23 saves, Sutter's earned-run average jumped from 1.54 in 1984 to 4.48. Finally, in late August, they decided on a shoulder operation.
With each outing, the 33-year-old right-hander has looked better. But Manager Chuck Tanner will not pitch him on successive nights. Monday night, in a 0-0 battle in the ninth, would have been a perfect spot. However, he pitched Sunday and was not available. The Braves lost.
When Joe Johnson needed help in the seventh inning Tuesday, Sutter was ready. He gave up two hits but struck out three.
"It picked the whole team up," Tanner said after watching Sutter in his best performance of the season.
"I saw Chuck before the game and told him I thought I was ready," Sutter said. "I had been throwing without pain and I felt fine tonight. I think I can help this team." Sutter, although he has only the two saves, has pitched in five games in a row without giving up a run.
Bruce Berenyi, another pitcher fighting arm problems, made his first start in more than a year for the Mets and was impressive. He gave up three hits, two runs and struck out six in five innings.
Washington broke it open in the seventh against Rick Aguilera. It was only the sixth loss in 27 games for the Mets, and Aguilera has lost half of them.
San Diego 4, Pittsburgh 2--Dane Iorg is 36 and planning to retire after this season. Before this game at Pittsburgh it appeared he had already retired. He was batting only .190.
But Iorg hit a three-run home run in the second inning, and the Padres went on to beat Mike Bielecki. It was the first home run for Iorg in the National League in five years.
Eric Show (2-2) walked seven, but he gave up only three hits and struck out eight in six innings to win.
Houston 3, Philadelphia 2--Denny Walling singled in Phil Garner from second base with one out in the 11th inning at Houston to give the Astros the victory.
With one out, Garner doubled off Dave Rucker. After an intentional walk to Glenn Davis, Walling bounced his hit into right and the Astros stretched their lead in the West to 1 1/2 games.
San Francisco 6, Chicago 5--Candy Maldonado is a good man to have in a pinch. With two out in the top of the ninth at Chicago, the former Dodger hit a two-run home run to give the Giants the victory.
It was the third time this season Maldonado has hit a home run as a pinch-hitter. It was the fifth pinch homer this season for the Giants.
The Giants went into the bottom of the eighth leading, 4-0, behind the three-hit pitching of Scott Garrelts. Garrelts faltered and so did the bullpen. The Cubs scored five times to take the lead. Another ex-Dodger, Ron Cey, singled in the last two runs.
In the ninth, it appeared Lee Smith would earn another save. Bob Brenly opened with a single and was on second with two out. But Maldonado hit a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats.
Montreal 4, Cincinnati 2--With their pitching ace, Mario Soto, struggling, it is no wonder the Reds are having trouble getting on track.
The Reds' two-game winning streak came to a halt at Montreal, where Andre Dawson's two-run single in the fifth handed Soto (2-5) his fourth consecutive defeat. Soto, who hasn't won since he pitched a three-hit shutout April 24, has a 4.35 ERA.