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BASEBALL EXTRA | ROUNDUP

Smoltz Glad Phillies Are Tuckered Out

June 29, 1997|From Associated Press

Michael Tucker made life a little easier for John Smoltz.

Tucker hit two of Atlanta's four home runs off Curt Schilling and Smoltz won for the first time in five weeks Saturday as the Braves eased to a 9-1 victory over the Phillies at Atlanta.

Smoltz (7-7) gave up six hits and struck out seven in seven innings for his first victory since May 23. Last season's NL Cy Young winner was 0-4 with two no-decisions in the span.

Tucker hit a solo home run in the first inning and a three-run home run in the third to help Smoltz.

"Tucker was a one-man wrecking crew," Smoltz said. "You don't expect to get that much off a pitcher like Schilling."

The Braves scored only 16 runs in Smoltz's previous six starts.

"I haven't really pitched bad during the streak. Just some late-game location problems and people beat me," Smoltz said. "I probably had more bad pitches tonight--six or seven--than in any of those other games. But I was staked to a 4-0 run lead in three innings."

St. Louis 12, Cincinnati 6--Not even another shaky start by Fernando Valenzuela could stop the Cardinals from getting even.

Ron Gant homered as the Cardinals scored seven runs off John Smiley and held on to beat the Reds at Cincinnati.

Dmitri Young matched his career high with four hits and Willie McGee had four singles and drove in three runs as the Cardinals piled up 18 hits.

St. Louis took the field still hurting from a 5-3 loss Friday night, when Willie Greene's grand slam and some poor Cardinal baserunning decided the game.

"We were kind of [angry] at last night's loss and just came out swinging," Young said. "Everyone knows we've got great pitching. They don't talk about our offense because we didn't score a lot of runs at first."

The defending NL Central champions have won six of eight games. After slumping early, the Cardinals have scored in double digits three times in June and are hitting .289 for the month.

Valenzuela gave up six runs (four earned) in four innings.

Chicago 5, Houston 2--Mark Grace gave Jeremi Gonzalez the lead and Sammy Sosa provided some breathing room. The 22-year-old and the Cub bullpen did the rest at Chicago.

Gonzalez, a rookie right-hander, and three relievers held Houston to two hits.

Gonzalez (4-2), recalled from triple-A Iowa on May 27, walked four and struck out four in his seventh major league start.

"I got a little tired," Gonzalez said. "The relief pitchers, they did the job for me."

Grace and Sosa also did their jobs, both hitting two-run homers. Grace hit his seventh homer in the first inning on his 33rd birthday, then Sosa homered in the eighth.

The win was the Cubs' second in a row, but only their third in 11 games.

"We've been going south and in his last couple of outings, he [Gonzalez] has picked us up," Grace said. "I think you'll see 'Gonzo' here in the big leagues for a long time."

New York 8, Pittsburgh 3--On a night he spent mostly walking, Todd Hundley's biggest contribution to the Mets' seventh victory in nine games came through . . . his running?

Bernard Gilkey and John Olerud drove in two runs apiece at Pittsburgh and the Mets beat the Pirates for the fourth time in five games over the last two weekends.

The Mets swept a four-game series in Shea Stadium last weekend and have won 10 of their last 12 against the Pirates.

Pittsburgh's biggest mistake was intentionally walking Hundley three times, tying a major league record held by many. Twice, Gilkey followed with hits, including an infield single in a five-run eighth inning when Hundley surprisingly beat third baseman Dale Sveum's throw to second base.

"Hundley hustled and ran better than I gave him credit for," said Sveum, who started for the injured Joe Randa. "Give him credit for hustling."

Florida 4, Montreal 2--Livan Hernandez, a Cuban defector making his second start of the season, earned his first major league victory.

Hernandez (0-1), who signed a four-year, $4.5-million contract with Florida after leaving the Cuban national team two years ago, gave up three hits and struck out six in five innings at Miami.

"I've been here two years. I came here to pitch in the major leagues, and obviously to win in the major leagues," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "I'm going to call my mother, my family to see if they know that I won."

The right-hander also hit David Segui with a pitch, with Segui making an unsuccessful attempt to charge the mound.

Hernandez denied that Segui was hit intentionally. "I never threw at him," Hernandez said. "I was trying to throw a sinker and it went into him. I never intended to hit him."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BESTS OF THE DAY

BATTING

*--*

Player Team Performance Team's Result Michael Tucker Atlanta 3 for 5, 2 homers, 4 RBIs Win Willie McGee St. Louis 4 singles, 3 RBIs Win Dante Bichette Colorado 2 homers, 6 RBIs Win

*--*

PITCHING

*--*

Player Team Performance Team's Result Livan Hernandez Florida 6 strikeouts, 1st victory Win Kevin Ritz Colorado 9 innings, 5 strikeouts, 6 hits Win John Smoltz Atlanta 7 innings, 7 strikeouts, 6 hits Win

*--*

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