The season is only half over, but St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa already has run out of superlatives to describe the play of Willie McGee.
"Whatever I've said before that's good, just use that," La Russa said of McGee, who tripled in two runs during the Cardinals' 4-3 comeback victory over Cincinnati on Tuesday at St. Louis.
"Just cue it up," La Russa said. "I think I've used amazing, marvelous, terrific and All-American. Those all fit. There's just no way to explain how good he's been for us."
As a pinch hitter with two outs in the seventh inning, McGee hit a forkball by former Cardinal closer Lee Smith for a two-run triple. Smith gave up three runs and four hits in one-plus inning.
Cincinnati Manager Ray Knight wasn't blaming Smith.
"Lee has been impeccable," Knight said. "Almost every single time this year our bullpen has done the job in a situation like that. Lee just didn't have his good stuff tonight."
Chicago 15, Pittsburgh 7--Ryne Sandberg and Tyler Houston each had four hits and four runs batted in to lead the Cubs over the Pirates at Pittsburgh.
"I don't know if I was confident this would come," said Sandberg, whose 12 hits in his last 25 at-bats has raised his batting average from .190 to .238. "It's been something I've had to work at a lot this season, and I'm sure I'll have to continue to work at it."
Houston, traded by the Braves on Wednesday for a minor-league pitcher, had two run-scoring doubles and two singles in his first start for Chicago.
Rookie starter Amaury Telemaco, previously hitless in 16 major league at-bats, also contributed two of the Cubs' season-high 22 hits.
Montreal 5, Atlanta 1--Mark Grudzielanek, picked as an All-Star earlier in the day, hit a key two-run single as the Expos beat Greg Maddux and the Braves at Montreal.
"Any time he's pitching, you have to be ready to swing," said Grudzielanek about hitting against Maddux. "He's always around the plate. I don't know what he does, but the ball dances in there. I thought we needed to come out here and win, we needed to make a point."
Rheal Cormier gave up three hits in 7 2/3 innings and won for the first time in five starts since June 5. He struck out five and walked three as the Expos won for the sixth time in nine games.
Maddux (8-6) lost for the first time in four starts. He gave up five runs--four earned--and 11 hits in seven innings.
Houston 4, Florida 3--Bill Spiers hit a bases-loaded single with one out in the 12th inning as the Astros beat the Marlins at Houston and extended their winning streak to four.
John Cangelosi led off with a double and moved to third on a grounder by Craig Biggio. Jeff Bagwell and Derek Bell were intentionally walked and Spiers blooped a single to win the game.
John Johnstone, Houston's fifth pitcher, threw a hitless 12th as the Astros won for the sixth time in seven games.
San Francisco 5, Colorado 1--Barry Bonds capped a five-run eighth inning with his 23rd homer, a three-run drive into the right-field stands, as the Giants rallied for a victory at San Francisco.
Mark Gardner (8-3) gave up one run on four hits in eight innings and struck out nine.
Kevin Ritz (9-5), who came within four outs of his first career shutout, lost for the first time since May 10. He had won his previous six decisions.
Philadelphia 3, New York 2--Russ Springer won in his first start in nearly a year and Mickey Morandini homered at Philadelphia, as the Phillies handed the Mets their fourth consecutive loss.
"I felt pretty good for three innings, then I really started to get tired," said Springer, who gave up two runs and four hits in five innings in his first start since last July 24, when he was with Angels.
Toby Borland and Ricky Bottalico each pitched two scoreless innings, with Bottalico getting his 17th save.