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Hampton Meets the Challenge

June 15, 2003|From Associated Press

Mike Hampton stepped into a big setting, shrugged off his recent layoff and came out looking fabulous.

Slowed by a sore groin that kept him from making his last scheduled start, Hampton pitched two-hit ball into the eighth inning for his first victory in more than a month and the Atlanta Braves beat the Seattle Mariners, 3-1, Saturday at Seattle.

"He pitched really good," Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox said. "He threw a lot of strikes and groundballs, and he had a lot of sinking action on the ball. He had a long layoff with those leg problems, but he threw strikes."

The Braves ended a seven-game winning streak by Seattle starter Jamie Moyer, who left with one out in the eighth after giving up an RBI double by Andruw Jones that made it 3-0. Gary Sheffield, who hit a one-out double, scored on the play.

It has been a fun series for the fans and the players of the teams with the best records in baseball.

"They've got a great crowd, incredible fans who have duplicated a World Series or playoff atmosphere," said John Smoltz, who got his major league-leading 26th save in 27 opportunities.

"It's nice to play in June to a sold-out stadium in a big atmosphere with two teams that have the best records."

Hampton (3-3) hadn't won since May 11, beating San Francisco 7-3. After that, he spiraled into a five-game stretch during which he went 0-2 with a 5.79 earned-run average over 23 1/3 innings.

Chicago Cubs 4, Toronto 2 -- Moises Alou hit a two-run triple and scored on a throwing error at Toronto as Mark Prior and the Cubs ended the Blue Jays' five-game winning streak.

Alou tripled into the gap in right-center in the first inning and scored when second baseman Orlando Hudson's relay throw hit him on the right arm and rolled into foul territory.

Carlos Delgado hit his 22nd homer for the Blue Jays.

Boston 8, Houston 4 -- Derek Lowe pitched into the eighth inning and David Ortiz hit a three-run double at Boston as the Red Sox beat former manager Jimy Williams and the Astros for the second straight game.

Geoff Blum and Jeff Bagwell each hit a solo home run for Houston, which has lost four of five after winning seven in a row. Bagwell's homer was his first in 140 at-bats -- the longest drought of his career -- since May 5 against Pittsburgh.

Arizona 9, Minnesota 2 -- Luis Gonzalez went three for five with four RBIs for the Diamondbacks at Minneapolis in support of Miguel Batista.

The Diamondbacks, though, lost two regulars who were injured running down the first-base line. Center fielder Danny Bautista strained a hamstring legging out a grounder in the second, and second baseman Junior Spivey sprained his ankle doing the same in the sixth.

Detroit 9, Colorado 7 -- Eric Munson hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning at Detroit to help the Tigers end an eight-game losing streak.

The teams have split the first two games of the series. The Rockies have not won a road series this year, while the Tigers have not won one at home.

Milwaukee 8, Baltimore 3 -- Richie Sexson hit his 21st homer and nearly started a brawl after being hit by a pitch in the Brewers' victory over the Orioles at Baltimore.

After connecting off Jason Johnson in the first inning, Sexson was struck by the first pitch from the right-hander in the third. The slugger took a few steps toward the mound and yelled at Johnson while being restrained by Oriole catcher Brook Fordyce.

New York Yankees 13, St. Louis 4 -- Jason Giambi twice hit two-run homers and Ruben Sierra and Raul Mondesi also connected to lead the Yankees at New York.

Former Yankee star Tino Martinez did the only damage for the Cardinals, twice hitting two-run homers and drawing a big cheer from the crowd of 55,174 each time.

Oakland 5, Montreal 4 -- Scott Hatteberg hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and Eric Byrnes also homered to lead the Athletics at Oakland.

Ricardo Rincon (3-3) struck out two in a perfect eighth for the win. Keith Foulke worked the ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances, giving up an RBI single to Edwards Guzman before retiring Ron Calloway with the bases loaded to end it.

San Francisco 7, Kansas City 4 -- Edgardo Alfonzo, who had only one RBI since May 21, drove in four runs to lead the Giants at Kansas City, Mo.

Rich Aurilia had three hits and two RBIs for the Giants. Damian Moss (7-4) gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings for his second win in seven starts.

Texas 13, Florida 2 -- Kevin Mench hit a three-run homer and Mark Teixeira had a two-run shot at Arlington, Texas, and the Rangers ended a three-game losing streak.

Juan Gonzalez went four for four and scored four runs for the Rangers. Gonzalez also drove in two runs, giving him 1,366 career RBIs, the most for a player born in Puerto Rico. He moved past Orlando Cepeda for 57th place on the career list.

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