Nolan Ryan gave another big lift to the Houston Astros' pennant hopes Wednesday night.
After giving up a leadoff single to Jerry Mumphrey, Ryan held the Chicago Cubs without another hit through six innings as he pitched the Astros to a 7-1 victory, keeping them seven games in front in the West.
Ryan (9-8) struck out five and walked two to earn his 250th victory. It was the fourth start since his second visit to the disabled list and his third sharp performance.
The 39-year-old fireballing right-hander was warned by Dr. Frank Jobe, one of the nation's leading sport surgeons, that every time he goes out to the mound there's a chance he'll blow out his elbow. Already there are plans for off-season surgery.
"I can't worry about that right now," Ryan said. "All I can think of is doing everything I can to help us win the pennant. I'm giving it everything I've got."
Since joining the Astros, Ryan has reached several milestones, including his 3,00th strikeout, a record fifth no-hitter and a record 4,000th strikeout.
"He didn't act like he had any pain," Manager Gene Michael of the Cubs said. "Nolan has to slow up someday."
San Francisco 3, Montreal 2--The seventh major league start for rookie Kelly Downs of the Giants appeared to be no different from the other six. He was pitching well in this game at San Francisco, but he wasn't winning.
Going into the bottom of the eighth, Downs trailed, 2-1. Then Rob Thompson took charge. First, he singled home Dan Gladden from second base to tie the game. Thompson went to second on an infield out and came home with the winning run on two wild pitches by Andy Gaffigan.
Instead of losing his fifth straight, Downs gained his first victory. In his four losses, the 25-year-old right-hander was given only five runs. Although this was his longest stint, he has pitched fairly well in all seven starts.
"Kelly pitches well enough to win most starts," Manager Roger Craig said. In his seven starts the Giants have accumulated a .190 batting average.
"I know I can pitch, so I didn't let it get to me when I wasn't winning," Downs (1-4) said. "I'm very elated and excited. I just want to see many, many more."
Cincinnati 9, Pittsburgh 5--Dave Parker had another big game against his former teammates at Pittsburgh, but teammate Eric Davis stole the show.
With two out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Davis broke a 5-5 tie by hitting his first career grand slam.
The Pirates jumped off to a 4-0 lead, but Parker, who drove in four runs for the second game in a row, hit a three-run homer in the third inning.
It was the 26th home run for Parker and his second in two nights at Pittsburgh.
St. Louis 2, Atlanta 1--Rick Mahler walked Terry Pendleton with the bases loaded in the eighth inning at St. Louis to give the Cardinals the victory.
Pendleton walked on a 3-and-2 pitch, and Mahler and Atlanta Manager Chuck Tanner thought umpire Eric Gregg blew the call.
"That's one loss I don't want to accept. There ought to be an asterisk by it," the irate Tanner said.
Cardinal starter John Tudor had to leave the game with two out in the seventh because of stiffness in his left shoulder.
Todd Worrell (9-8) pitched one-hit relief for 2 innings.
Willie McGee, playing his first game since pulling a hamstring Aug. 2, went 2 for 2, including a first-inning double, and scored the first Cardinal run.
New York 6, San Diego 5--Dwight Gooden breezed through seven innings at San Diego and, with a 5-1 lead, took the rest of the night off. He missed his 14th victory, though, because the Padres tied the score with four in the eighth.
Keith Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run in the 11th, then center fielder Len Dykstra made a fine defensive play to save it. With Garry Templeton on second base and one out in the bottom of the inning, Tim Flannery singled to center. Dykstra's perfect throw nailed Templeton at the plate, and Flannery was out trying to go to third.