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BASEBALL EXTRA | ROUNDUP

Pirates Seek to Plunder, Not Blunder

September 19, 1997|From Associated Press

Francisco Cordova kept the Pittsburgh Pirates alive in the National League Central, running his hitless innings streak against Houston to 15 before giving up two runs in a 12-3 victory Thursday night at Pittsburgh.

The Pirates cut Houston's division lead to 3 1/2 games--just as it was before the two-game series began--and kept the Astros' magic number at seven. Houston has 10 games left and Pittsburgh has nine.

"What did it mean to us? It was the season," said Turner Ward, who was 3 for 4 with three RBIs. "If we lose, we're down 5 1/2 and it's about over. Three-and-a-half is still a substantial lead, but we're just a winning streak away from getting back into it."

The Pirates must pick up at least half a game to maintain a chance of catching the Astros in their season-ending three-game series Sept. 26-28 in the Astrodome.

Cordova (11-8), who pitched the first nine innings of a 10-inning no-hitter against Houston July 12, retired 13 consecutive batters before Billy Spiers hit a solo homer in the fifth. It was the first Astros' hit off the right-hander in a span of 53 batters.

Pittsburgh had lost nine of 13.

Chicago 4, St. Louis 3--The Cardinals' Mark McGwire failed to hit a home run in tailor-made conditions at Chicago.

The wind was whipping out at 24 mph at Wrigley Field and McGwire was facing Steve Trachsel, who'd given up more home runs than any pitcher in the National League.

But the best McGwire could do was a pair of singles.

"What was there, one home run hit? That's why you can't make a big deal out of it [the wind]," said McGwire, who leads the majors with 53 homers, eight short of Roger Maris' record 61.

McGwire had a wind-blown single and two fly outs against Trachsel, struck out on three pitches against Marc Pisciotta and then had an RBI infield single off Terry Adams in the Cardinals' three-run, ninth-inning.

Atlanta 11, New York 4--The Braves battered Met pitching for the second game in a row, getting homers from Chipper Jones and Michael Tucker and three hits from Ryan Klesko at Atlanta.

Paul Byrd (4-3) allowed two hits and two earned runs in five innings for the victory. He started in place of 20-game winner Denny Neagle, who skipped his turn because of an injured shoulder.

Jason Isringhausen (2-2) gave up 10 hits and seven runs in three innings.

Tucker and Fred McGriff both had three RBIs for the Braves, who outhit the Mets 17-4 and dropped their magic number for winning the NL East to five.

The Braves used five singles to score three times in the first against Isringhausen. McGriff had a sacrifice fly and Tucker and Javy Lopez added RBI hits.

The Mets took advantage of two errors to take a 4-3 lead in the second. One run scored when Byrd, unsure of where to throw on a bunt, eventually flipped the ball over McGriff's head at first. Then McGriff let a grounder by Brian McRae go under his glove, allowing another run.

The Braves went ahead for good with a four-run third against Isringhausen, whose ERA rose to 8.03.

Jones, who was in a four-for-23 slump, led off the third with his 21st homer and Tucker followed three batters later with his 12th, a two-run shot over the center-field fence.

The Braves defeated the Mets, 10-2, Wednesday.

Florida 8, Philadelphia 2--Kevin Brown won his sixth consecutive decision and the Marlins reduced their magic number for clinching their first playoff berth to five at Miami.

Florida is 5 1/2 games ahead of NL West co-leaders San Francisco and the Dodgers in the wild-card race, and six games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

Brown (15-8) gave up nine hits and two runs, one earned, in 8 1/3 innings.

Devon White and Jim Eisenreich each had a two-run single in Florida's five-run second inning. White also doubled home a run in the eighth for the Marlins, who had 15 hits.

Mike Grace (3-2) had by far his worst outing in five starts this season, allowing seven hits and six runs in two innings as the Phillies lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

Cincinnati 6, Montreal 3--Willie Greene broke out of a season-long slump against the Expos with three hits and Lenny Harris had a two-run infield single at Cincinnati.

Greene, one-for-21 against Montreal heading into the game, doubled and scored during a three-run third inning and singled in a run in the seventh.

Scott Sullivan (3-3) got the victory with a career-high four innings in relief of Pete Schourek. Jeff Shaw pitched the ninth for his NL-leading 39th save.

Pete Rose Jr., a pinch-hitter in the fourth, struck out.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BESTS OF THE DAY

BATTING

*--*

Player Team Performance Team's Result Larry Walker Colorado 48th home run, single Loss Ryan Klesko Atlanta 3 hits, scored twice Win Turner Ward Pittsburgh 3 hits, 3 RBI Win

*--*

PITCHING

*--*

Player Team Performance F. Cordova Pittsburgh Allowed 2 hits, 2 runs in 6 inn. Kevin Brown Florida Allowed 1 earned run in 8 1/3 inn. Paul Menhart San Diego Allowed 3 hits, 1 run in 6 inn.

Player Team's Result F. Cordova Win Kevin Brown Win Paul Menhart Win

*--*

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