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National League Roundup : Cardinals Are Shut Out by Pirates

September 24, 1987|DAN HAFNER

In baseball, maybe more than in any other sport, there is a history of lowly teams rising up to knock down pennant contenders.

One of the most famous such occurences was in 1934 when Bill Terry, manager of the New York Giants, when queried about the Dodgers, asked, "Is Brooklyn still in the league?"

The Dodgers beat the Giants in the last three games of the season, permitting the St. Louis Cardinals to win the pennant.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are putting a new twist on smiting contenders. The Pirates, eliminated from the race in the National League East long ago, are having nothing but fun.

They aren't choosy, either. They are making life miserable for all three contenders.

It was the Cardinals turn to suffer Wednesday night at St. Louis.

Brian Fisher, hammered by the Cardinals in five previous outings against them, pitched a two-hitter, and the Pirates beat St. Louis, 2-0, for their 13th win in the last 17 games.

The Cardinals, who had won four in a row, had their lead over the New York Mets cut to 2 1/2 games.

In their last 10 games, the Pirates have played only the three contenders--the Cardinals, the Mets and the Expos. They are 6-4, including 2-1 against both the Cardinals and Mets.

After they play the Cardinals tonight, the Pirates, who have won 9 of their last 10 road games, will go to New York for three games this weekend.

Against the Cardinals, Fisher, a former relief pitcher with the New York Yankees, had an ERA of 7.36 this season.

But, he did not give up a hit until former Pirate Tony Pena singled with two out in the fifth. Lance Johnson, a replacement for Vince Coleman after Coleman was ejected in the first inning for protesting a third strike, had the other hit, also a single.

"We're not interested in being known as spoilers in the pennant race," Manager Jim Leyland said. "We are just trying to finish on a positive note and show the top teams we can compete with them.

"We have played well in all 10 games against the contenders. We lost an extra-inning game to the Expos to begin and last night blew a lead for one of the few times lately."

Fisher's pitching impressed Leyland and Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog.

"He's got a very good arm," Herzog said. "That's the best control I've seen him have. We've always liked him."

It was a tough loss for Greg Mathews (10-11). He gave up a run and five hits in eight innings, didn't walk a batter and struck out five.

New York 4, Montreal 3--John Candelaria's second start for the Mets at New York was an improvement over the big left-hander's debut last Friday.

In his first game after being obtained from the Angels, Candelaria couldn't make it through the second inning, giving up five runs and eight hits.

He went six innings in this one, giving up six hits and three runs. However, he was trailing, 3-1.

Bryn Smith had a four-hitter going into the sixth, but Keith Hernandez, ending a 4-for-32 slump, and Darryl Strawberry both singled, and Kevin McReynolds doubled to chase Smith. Gary Carter greeted Jeff Parrett with a two-run single, and Candelaria had a victory.

The Expos fell 1 1/2 games behind the Mets and are 4 behind the Cardinals despite a big night for Tim Raines. Raines was 4 for 4, scored two runs and stole his 50th base. He has had 50 or more steals in seven consecutive seasons.

The Expos, who still have four games left at St. Louis, warned that they are not out of the race.

"Don't count us out, yet," Raines said. "Three or four times in the past, everybody thought we were done and we came back. We can do it again."

San Diego 6, Cincinnati 4--The 13th inning proved unlucky for the Reds at Cincinnati, and their flickering pennant hopes are just about out.

Randy Ready and John Kruk hit consecutive home runs with two outs to give the Padres the victory.

Benito Santiago singled in a run in the third inning, the hit extending his hitting streak to a club-record 25 games.

Atlanta 5, Houston 4--Albert Hall hit for the cycle at Atlanta. He got his triple in the ninth inning and scored the winning run on a wild pitch by Dave Smith.

Hall singled in the first, doubled in the fifth and homered in the sixth.

Philadelphia 5, Chicago 0--The Cubs sank deeper into the cellar in this game at Chicago as Bruce Ruffin (11-14) ended a five-game losing streak with a six-hitter.

The Cubs trail fifth-place Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games in the East.

Luis Aguayo and Lance Parrish hit home runs to support the 23-year-old left-hander.

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