Glenn Davis, emerging from a lengthy slump, hit a three-run home run with two out in the eighth inning Monday night at Houston to give the Astros a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Davis entered the game in an 0-for-19 slump. He singled in a run in the first inning, then, with the Astros trailing, 2-1, beat Doyle Alexander with his 22nd home run.
Alexander had retired 15 batters in a row before Bill Doran doubled with one out in the eighth. With two out, Denny Walling walked, and Davis made a winner of Bob Knepper and kept the Astros in command in the National League West.
Knepper, who was the first pitcher to win 10 games, then failed seven times to win his 11th, improved his record to 13-7. He gave up six hits and both Braves runs in eight innings.
Early in the season, when hardly anybody believed the Astros were for real, Davis, Knepper and Mike Scott were keeping the Astros in the race.
Although Knepper and Davis have gone through some down periods, other teammates have begun to make contributions. This has led to the belief that the Astros are legitimate contenders.
They have won 10 of their last 12 and, with Davis hitting again, the future looks bright. His home run was only his second since the All-Star break. The second-year first baseman has driven in 71 runs.
As a highly touted rookie last year, Davis, in just 350 at-bats, hit 20 home runs and drove in 64 runs. He has already exceeded those totals.
Davis has made himself a candidate for the Most Valuable Player. He has made a big impression on Brave Manager Chuck Tanner.
"You see where they are and what they've done because he's been here doing the job all year," he said.
Davis' record is especially impressive because he is playing in the Astrodome, which is not noted as a haven for home run hitters.
"I was glad to see Glenn get out of his slump," Astro Manager Hal Lanier said. "Every hitter goes into a slump once in a while."
San Diego 5, Cincinnati 2--It might appear the San Diego fans have given up on the Padres, but Manager Steve Boros, citing the return of the home run, hasn't.
Only 12,273 turned out for a 5 p.m. game that marked the return from a disastrous trip in which the Padres won only 2 of 11 games. In the last seven, they did not hit a home run.
Tony Gwynn, Kevin McReynolds and Jerry Royster hit home runs to give Andy Hawkins (7-7) his first win since July 7.
"This home stand is crucial to our hopes," Boros said. "It's nice to get some home runs, but mostly we have to battle for runs."
Pittsburgh 7, Montreal 4--In late June, while in the process of beating the New York Mets four out of six, the Expos sounded a warning that the race in the East was far from over.
At the time, the Expos had pulled within eight games and more than half the season remained. As the teams move into the last two months, it's quite a different story.
When Hubie Brooks went out of action with a thumb injury 10 days ago, and catcher Mike Fitzgerald followed a few days later with a knee injury, it may have been the beginning of the end.
With former Dodgers R.J. Reynolds and Sid Bream providing the key hits in this game at Montreal, the last-place Pirates handed the skidding Expos their eighth loss in the last nine games. There are 67 games left, but the Expos are 16 1/2 games behind the Mets and fading fast.
The Expos led, 4-3, going into the seventh, but the Pirates exploded for four runs. Three singles produced a tie, and Bream singled in the go-ahead run. Reynolds, who earlier doubled in two runs, singled in the final run.
New York 9, Chicago 2--Bob Ojeda, leading the majors in earned-run average, improved his record to 12-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.28 in this game at New York.
Ojeda gave up five hits and struck out seven in seven innings. Only one of the two runs off him was earned.
Howard Johnson hit a three-run double in the first inning, and the Mets breezed from there. Kevin Mitchell and Darryl Strawberry hit home runs for the runaway leaders of the East.
St. Louis 3, Philadelphia 1--Alan Knicely hit his first home run of the season to break a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning at Philadelphia, and Danny Cox pitched a two-hitter for the surging Cardinals.
The Cardinals, who have won seven in a row, are only 4 1/2 games out of second in the East.
The Phillies were also held to two hits Sunday by Houston's Nolan Ryan and Aurelio Lopez.
Knicely's home run, which cleared the fence in dead center, was his first since June 10 last year.