The Philadelphia Phillies defeated Cincinnati, 9-2, Wednesday night to sweep the Reds at home for the first time in 25 years, improving to a major league best 8-1 with their fifth consecutive victory.
The team's best start was 8-0 in 1915. They were 10-2 in 1964, eventually blowing the pennant in the last two weeks.
An early pattern has developed in the Phillies' success. Almost every night it is a new star or stars who arises to lead the team.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia's big-time players, John Kruk and Darren Daulton, went a combined two for nine. So, the guys at the bottom of the lineup picked them up. Pete Incaviglia, Wes Chamberlain and Juan Bell were seven for 13 and drove in seven of the nine runs.
"That's what we have to do," Chamberlain said. "Pick each other up. I hope that continues to happen. Everybody is going to come up empty some time. That's why we have nine out there."
Chamberlain had three hits, drove in a run and threw out a runner at the plate. Mariano Duncan had three hits and scored twice, Bell, who was hitting .182, has been booed, hit a double and a single and Incaviglia drove in three runs.
Ben Rivera (1-1) pitched six shutout innings, giving up four hits, striking out seven and walking four in the victory.
Cincinnati's Tom Browning (0-2) gave up five hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings. It was his second start since spending most of last season on the disabled list and undergoing major surgery on his left knee.
The Phillies built a 7-0 lead before the Reds reached reliever Jose DeLeon for two runs in the seventh, both scoring on wild pitches after Cincinnati loaded the bases for the third time.
The Reds have lost six of their last seven games and are 2-7 under new Manager Tony Perez.
With one out in the third, the Phillies hit four singles in a row for a 2-0 lead on RBI hits by Kruk and Dave Hollins.
Philadelphia chased Browning in the fifth, scoring four runs after two were out. Incaviglia and Chamberlain each singled home one run and Bell hit a two-run double.
The Phillies made it 7-0 in the sixth on Lenny Dykstra's double, an infield out and Hollins' infield hit, and scored two more in the eighth on a two-run single by Incaviglia.
David West pitched two scoreless innings to finish for the Phillies.
Houston 9, Montreal 5--The Astros won their fifth in a row on the road as Ken Caminiti drove in two runs at Montreal.
Houston scored two runs on wild pitches, including the go-ahead run in a three-run seventh to take the lead as the Expos again missed closer John Wetteland, out with a broken toe. The Astros rallied for seven runs in the seventh inning in a 9-6 victory on Tuesday against Montreal.
The Astros' Mark Portugal (1-0) pitched six innings, giving up five runs and four hits. Reliever Mike Gardiner (0-1) gave up three runs and did not record an out in the seventh.
Florida 6, San Francisco 4--The Marlins won their first road game as Rich Renteria's pinch single broke a tie and capped a three-run sixth inning at San Francisco. The Marlins ended San Francisco's four-game winning streak.
One day before the Atlanta Braves were to arrive for a four-game series, Manager Dusty Baker held both Barry Bonds and Will Clark out of the starting lineup because of injuries.
Ryan Bowen (1-0) gave up four runs, two unearned, walked five and struck out three in five innings for his first victory since October of 1991. Bryan Harvey pitched the ninth for his third save.
New York 6, Colorado 3--Sid Fernandez held the Rockies to one hit in five shutout innings before leaving with stiffness in his left shoulder, and the Mets held on at Denver.
Fernandez (1-0), whose departure was termed precautionary, did not allow a hit until Andres Galarraga led off the fifth with a sharp single to left. Of the 15 batters he retired, nine hit the ball in the air, most of them on harmless fly balls except for Charlie Hayes' long drive that Ryan Thompson caught at the base of the left-center field wall in the fourth.
Fernandez threw only 40 pitches and, despite two walks, faced only one batter over the minimum, thanks to two Colorado runners who were caught stealing.
Mike Draper relieved Fernandez in the sixth and held the Rockies scoreless through two more innings, giving up one other hit, until Colorado scored in the eighth on Eric Young's three-run triple.
Mike Maddux pitched 1 1/3 innings for his first save as a Met, allowing one hit.
Chicago 6, Atlanta 0--Mike Harkey came off the disabled list and pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings as the Cubs defeated the Braves at Atlanta.
The Braves, who entered the game hitting .199, were shut out for the second time in 10 games.
Harkey (1-0), activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, gave up four hits, struck out five and walked two.
The right-hander, put on the disabled list March 27 to continue rehabilitation of his left knee, was removed from the game after walking Otis Nixon with one out in the eighth inning. Bob Scanlan relieved and got out of the inning before Randy Myers finished.
Jeff Blauser had three of the Braves' six hits. Chicago's Mark Grace extended his hitting streak to eight games with a solo home run, his third of the season, in the third.
Pittsburgh 11, San Diego 7--Andy Van Slyke drove in a career-high five runs, including a home run, and the Pirates took advantage of the Padres' ragged defense at San Diego.
Van Slyke delivered a two-run single with two out in the fourth inning to give the Pirates a 6-2 lead and chase starter Frank Seminara (0-1). He added a two-run home run in the seventh, his second.
Rookie Albert Martin had four singles and scored three runs for the Pirates.