Everyone is crediting the addition of Andre Dawson for the resurgence of the Chicago Cubs. Manager Gene Michael says that's only partly correct. The rest, he says, is pitching.
Jamie Moyer and two relievers allowed only five hits Saturday at Houston, and Ryne Sandberg hit a solo homer to give the Cubs a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros.
The victory kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie in the East and gave them a 15-5 record on the road, best in the majors.
"Our pitching has been good," Michael said. "We're getting help from everybody. How about the nice job Frank (DiPino) did today?"
DiPino, a former Astro, got the last two outs to earn his first save.
The Cubs have the third best earned-run average in the league at 3.71, but Houston Manager Hal Lanier isn't impressed.
"I don't think their pitching is that good," Lanier said. "All of them have ERAs in the 4's. I think our hitters are giving their pitchers too much credit."
Moyer (3-3) walked 3 and struck out 3 in 8 innings, then turned the job over to Ron Davis, who got the first out before allowing a single to Kevin Bass and giving way to DiPino.
Jose Cruz's grounder moved Bass to second base; Alan Ashby hit a grounder to second, and umpire Paul Runge awarded Ashby first base on catcher's interference by Jody Davis.
But DiPino got Dickie Thon to fly out, ending the game.
Houston's Nolan Ryan (2-3) allowed 5 hits in 6 innings. He walked 2 and struck out 9 to increase his career-leading strikeout total to 4,340.
Sandberg broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth with his sixth homer.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead on Jim Sundberg's RBI grounder in the second and the Astros' tied it on Bill Hatcher's run-scoring single in the third.
St. Louis 6, Cincinnati 5--Jack Clark's 10th homer capped a three-run first inning, and the Cardinals held off the Reds at St. Louis to remain percentage points ahead of the Cubs in the East.
Curt Ford added a two-run homer off Mario Soto (3-2) in the fourth, and Clark doubled home a run in the fifth to make it 6-1.
The Reds cut the lead to 6-3 in the sixth and chased Tim Conroy (2-1). Barry Larkin singled home one run and the other scored on a double play.
Cincinnati added a another run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Larkin by Rick Horton and got within a run on an RBI grounder by Kurt Stillwell. Todd Worrell stiffened to pick up his seventh save and fourth in the last four games.
San Francisco 5, New York 4--Jeff Leonard hit his ninth home run with one out in the 10th inning to lift the Giants to victory over the Mets at New York, breaking a four-game losing streak.
The win moved the Giants into a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the West.
Leonard homered on the first pitch thrown to him by rookie reliever Jeff Innis (0-1) who was making his major league debut after being called up earlier in the day from Tidewater of the Triple-A International League.
Scott Garrelts (5-3) got the victory with three hitless innings.
The Mets tied the score, 4-4, in the bottom of the sixth on Dave Magadan's run-scoring single.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the first inning Len Dykstra's leadoff homer and an RBI bases-loaded walk to Howard Johnson, but the Giants got even on Will Clark's two-run homer in the second.
Magadan doubled in the fifth and scored on Gary Carter's grounder to break the tie, but the Giants took a 4-3 lead in the sixth on a run-scoring double by Bob Melvin and Matt Williams' RBI single.
Atlanta 10, Pittsburgh 8--Ozzie Virgil hit a home run for the fifth consecutive game, and pinch-hitter Ted Simmons hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the seventh inning to lead the Braves past the Pirates at Pittsburgh.
Simmons' second home run of the season came off John Smiley (2-1) gave Atlanta a 10-7 lead.
The Braves erased a 6-2 deficit in the fifth when Dion James and Ken Oberkfell hit run-scoring doubles and Gerald Perry followed with a three-run homer to make it 7-6. The Pirates tied it on Bobby Bonilla's RBI single in the sixth.
Virgil hit a two-run homer in the second inning. It was his 12th of the season, sixth in the last five games.
Philadelphia 9, San Diego 0--Don Carman pitched a three-hitter, and the Phillies scored six runs in the fourth inning while routing the hapless Padres at Philadelphia.
The Phillies have won 6 of 8 games, while the Padres have lost five straight, 10 of 11 and 30 of 38 this season. San Diego is 3-17 on the road.
Carman (2-2) struck out five and walked one in pitching his second career shutout.