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NL ROUNDUP

What a Rusch! Mets Finally Catch Braves

August 29, 2000|From Associated Press

The New York Mets aren't about to get too excited about being in first place in August.

"Being in first place is something. Staying there the rest of the season is something else," Edgardo Alfonzo said after his three-run homer in the first inning helped the Mets beat the Houston Astros, 4-2, Monday night to move into a tie for first in the National League East with Atlanta.

New York hadn't been in first place since April 4, when the Mets were 2-1. The Braves had held first exclusively since April 18, but lost to Cincinnati to fall back into a tie.

Glendon Rusch (9-10) gave up solo homers to former Met Roger Cedeno and Richard Hidalgo, but pitched around three other extra-base hits.

Houston's Tony Eusebio doubled to give him a team-record 24-game hitting streak.

The Mets did all of the scoring they needed on the first five pitches against Brian Powell (1-1). Benny Agbayani singled to center on a 1-and-0 pitch and went to third when Derek Bell singled on the next pitch to end an 0-for-21 slump.

Alfonzo then hit a 1-and-0 pitch into the seats in left center for his 17th homer and a 3-1 Met lead.

"At the end of the season it means something to be in first place," Met Manager Bobby Valentine said. "But the last time I checked, we aren't even in the final month of the season yet."

New York has gone a major league-best 30-15 since the All-Star break to move into first place this late in the season for the first time since Sept. 3, 1990.

Cincinnati 6, Atlanta 3--In Atlanta, the Reds stunned Brave starter Greg Maddux by scoring five runs in the first inning, and fill-in starter Ron Villone pitched the first complete game of his pro career.

Atlanta (78-53), trying to extend its already unprecedented streak of division titles to nine, is only 13-13 in August and has lost four of its last five games. The Reds stopped a seven-game losing streak at Turner Field dating back to Aug. 6, 1998.

Villone gave up only five hits, needing 112 pitches for the first complete game of his eight-year career.

San Francisco 5, Pittsburgh 4--Russ Davis led off the ninth inning with his second pinch-hit homer of the season and the Giants won despite playing some unaccustomed shaky defense at Pittsburgh.

Davis hit a 1-and-0 pitch from reliever Scott Sauerbeck (5-2) into the left-field seats for his sixth homer, helping the Giants to their 10th victory in 14 games and sending the Pirates to their fifth consecutive loss.

The Giants, who have matched their largest lead of the season at 3 1/2 games in the NL West, led, 3-0, in the first inning and 4-2 in the second, but lost the lead as starter Shawn Estes and their usually reliable defense had trouble settling down in the early innings.

St. Louis 5, Florida 2--Will Clark's run-scoring triple sparked a four-run eighth inning and the Cardinals rallied past the Marlins at Miami.

Mike James (1-2) pitched a scoreless seventh for his first major league victory since 1997 with the Angels. He combined with starter Rick Ankiel, Jason Christiansen and Dave Veres on a five-hitter.

Veres earned his 23rd save in 28 chances for the NL Central leaders, who improved to 4-1 on their seven-game trip.

Montreal 9, Arizona 5--Orlando Cabrera and Michael Barrett each had three hits and three runs batted in as the Expos solved Curt Schilling at Montreal.

Schilling (10-9) had pitched eight straight complete games against the Expos. He got off to a good start, retiring the first 13 batters before Montreal caught up to him.

The Expos scored four times in the seventh inning to take a 6-3 lead. Cabrera and Barrett doubled during the rally.

Philadelphia 3, Colorado 2--Bobby Abreu hit his third homer in two games and the Rockies' Todd Helton got three hits to raise his average to .397 in the Phillies' win at home.

Helton's average went up three points as he singled in the first inning, flied out in the third, and doubled in the fifth and eighth innings.

Abreu gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the third with his 22nd homer.

San Diego 8, Chicago 2--Phil Nevin hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and a three-run double in the ninth to lead the Padres at Chicago.

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