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Surprising Pirates Now Atop Central

May 10, 1997|From Associated Press

As strange as it may seem, the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.

Jose Guillen homered and drove in three runs and Francisco Cordova, finally given some support, pitched his first career shutout as the Pirates continued to torment the NL's top teams, defeating Atlanta, 9-0, on Friday night at Pittsburgh.

The Braves (23-11) own the NL's best record but have lost three of four over the last eight days to Pittsburgh. The Pirates have outpitched the majors' best starting staff, giving up only five runs in the four games.

The Pirates (19-15) moved into first place by a half-game in the Central Division with Houston's loss to Florida.

"If they keep getting good pitching, they're not going to fall back," Brave Manager Bobby Cox said. "I haven't seen a [badly] pitched game from them yet. When you've got good pitching, you're going to win ballgames."

The bargain-basement Pirates, retooling with rookies after cutting their payroll almost in half since last season, are 6-2 against the Braves, Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies.

"There's no secret, no magic formula," said Al Martin, who had three hits. "We come every day and play nine hard innings and it's working. We scratch and claw to score runs because we know if we don't hustle, we don't score."

Cordova (2-3) gave up seven hits, struck out eight and walked four while lowering his earned-run average to 1.53 and the Pirate starting staff's to 2.84--third best in the NL.

Guillen hit one of Pittsburgh's three sacrifice flies and broke out of a four-for-34 slump with a two-run homer in the fourth.

It was the Pirates' fourth win in a row and seventh in nine games.

New York 10, St. Louis 3--Butch Huskey hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning and the Mets defeated the Cardinals at St. Louis, preventing the Cardinals from reaching .500 for the first time this season.

Todd Hundley and Bernard Gilkey each had three runs batted in for the Mets, who won for the ninth time in 13 games. New York is 17-18 and hasn't been at .500 since the first week of the 1996 season.

Huskey led off the seventh with his fifth home run, and second in three days, for a 4-3 lead.

The Mets made it 6-3 in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Hundley and a balk by Rich Batchelor.

Florida 3, Houston 2--Two Houston errors helped Florida load the bases in the ninth inning for Gary Sheffield, who hit a run-scoring single for the victory at Miami.

Leading off the ninth, pinch-hitter Alex Arias hit a routine grounder that went between second baseman Craig Biggio's legs. Ralph Milliard then dropped a bunt toward third baseman Tim Bogar, who dropped the ball and allowed Arias to get to third.

Jim Eisenreich was intentionally walked with one out before Sheffield chopped a single down the third-base line off Jose Lima (0-2).

Robb Nen (2-1) pitched the ninth for the victory.

The Marlins, limited to five hits over seven innings by Houston starter Darryl Kile, tied it, 2-2, in the eighth with a run off reliever John Hudek.

Philadelphia 3, Colorado 1--Calvin Maduro combined with two relievers on a four-hitter and Rico Brogna drove in two runs, lifting the Phillies over the Rockies at Philadelphia.

Maduro (3-3), beaten, 9-0, by the Rockies in his last start May 4, gave up two hits in seven innings to improve to 3-0 at home.

Ken Ryan, activated from the disabled list before the game, pitched the eighth and Ricky Bottalico struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save.

Brogna's two-run double keyed a three-run fourth inning.

Scott Rolen and Darren Daulton hit one-out singles in the fourth. One out later, Brogna, who has hit safely in 12 consecutive games, brought both in with his double to left. Kevin Stocker's run-scoring single capped the inning.

Cincinnati 7, San Diego 2--Bret Boone, Willie Greene and Joe Oliver homered, and John Smiley matched his career high with 11 strikeouts for the Reds at San Diego.

The victory was only the fifth in 13 games for Cincinnati, who dropped the defending NL West champion Padres to their 15th loss in 19 games. San Diego batters struck out a season-high 14 times.

Smiley (3-5) held the Padres to six hits in seven innings and matched his career strikeout high set at Philadelphia on Sept. 2, 1995. He walked none, but gave up homers to Greg Vaughn and Archi Cianfrocco, who was pressed into leadoff duty after Quilvio Veras was injured in the first inning.

Boone and Greene hit long homers off Tim Worrell (2-4). Greene's fourth homer was a high, two-run shot to right-center in the fifth that knocked in two runs.





Player Team Performance Team's Result Jose Guillen Pittsburgh 2 for 3, broke four-for-34 slump with 2-run homer Win Bernard Gilkey New York .183 coming in; 3 RBIs, double, triple Win Rico Brogna Philadelphia 2 for 4, 2 RBIs, double Win




Player Team Performance Team's Result Calvin Maduro Philadelphia 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run Win F. Cordova Pittsburgh 9 innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts Win Kevin Brown Florida 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 10 strikeouts Win


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