Ryne Sandberg homered and drove in two runs to help the Chicago Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the fading Houston Astros Monday night at Houston.
The loss was the sixth straight for the Astros, who dropped below .500 (65-66) and fell 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading San Francisco Giants in the National League West. The second-place Astros had won 11 straight at the Astrodome.
"It's not a lack of effort," Astro second baseman Bill Doran said of the skid. "Everyone is busting their tails. But things just don't seem to be working. It's not over yet. We still have 31 games left to play."
Sandberg's first-inning home run, his 15th, was the 183rd of the season for the Cubs, breaking a team record set in 1958. The NL record of 207 homers in a 162-game season was set by the 1966 Atlanta Braves.
Cub rookie Les Lancaster (5-1) allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings, walking 1 and striking out 5. Lee Smith got the final five outs for his 32nd save.
Houston's Danny Darwin (8-9) pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits. He left the game in the second with a pulled muscle in his midsection.
San Francisco 5, Montreal 0--Dave Dravecky gave up five hits at San Francisco in pitching his second shutout since being acquired by the Giants last month in a trade with the San Diego Padres.
In ending Montreal's five-game winning streak, the Giants won for the 17th time in 24 games.
Dravecky (8-9) is 5-2 since joining the Giants. He shut out the Dodgers earlier this month and got no decision last Wednesday at Philadelphia despite working 7 scoreless innings.
Kevin Mitchell hit his 16th home run in the seventh, and Candy Maldonado hit his 16th homer in the eighth for the Giants, who beat Dennis Martinez (7-3).
St. Louis 4, Cincinnati 0--John Tudor allowed five hits in eight shutout innings at St. Louis, helping the Cardinals to their sixth straight victory.
Tudor (5-2) walked one and struck out four in sending the slumping Reds to their ninth loss in 10 games. The Reds trail the Giants by six games.
It was Tudor's seventh start and longest stint since coming off the disabled list last month. He broke a bone in his right knee in a freak accident when New York catcher Barry Lyons crashed into him in the Cardinal dugout during a game April 19.
The Cardinals' Willie McGee extended his hitting streak to 12 games, getting a single and double and driving in two runs.
Pittsburgh 7, Atlanta 3--Mike Dunne pitched a six-hitter, and rookie Jose Lind contributed a two-run triple at Pittsburgh as the Pirates extended their winning streak to seven games.
The winning streak is the Pirates' longest since they won seven straight from in July of 1984.
Atlanta has lost five straight.
Dunne (9-5), who leads NL rookies in victories, allowed an unearned run in the third and gave up Ozzie Virgil's 24th home run, a two-run shot, in the seventh.
New York 6, San Diego 5--Howard Johnson opened the 10th inning with his 33rd homer, lifting the Mets to a come-from-behind victory at San Diego.
His homer made a loser of Keith Comstock (2-1).
The Mets tied the score, 5-5, with four runs in the eighth. Rafael Santana's two-run triple made it 5-3, and Mookie Wilson followed with another triple, scoring Santana. Pinch-hitter Lee Mazzilli Doug Sisk, bunted back to pitcher Lance McCullers, who threw wildly to first for an error, scoring Wilson.
The Mets' Jesse Orosco (3-7) worked 2 innings for the victory. Roger McDowell retired one batter to pick up his 22nd save as the Mets moved into second place in the NL East. They trail St. Louis by 5 1/2 games.