|Cubs finally pull ahead of Brewers in NL Central; Bonds goes hitless again|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 01 August 2007 22:27|
Matt Murton raced home on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the ninth inning Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and to the top of the NL Central.
The Cubs, who were 8 1/2 games behind on June 23, finally overcame the Brewers. Chicago's win, coupled with the Mets' 8-5 win at Milwaukee, puts the Cubs a percentage point ahead of the Brewers.
``You can't make too much out of it on the first of August,'' Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. ``We've got a lot of baseball to play. We can't get caught up in it.''
Bonds, for once, seems to be caught up in the pursuit of a milestone.
The Giants slugger went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk in San Francisco's 6-4 loss at Los Angeles, leaving him stuck for another frustrating night on 754 home runs.
Since moving within one of Hank Aaron's record Friday night in San Francisco, Bonds is 1-for-12 with eight walks. His .186 average in July was his lowest in a month since April 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That includes months in which he had at least 15 at-bats.
``I think without question he's not seeing as many strikes, and they're being very careful,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``He's not getting a lot to hit right now.''
In other NL games, it was Arizona 9, San Diego 5 in 11 innings; Atlanta 12, Houston 3; Florida 4, Colorado 3; Pittsburgh 15, St. Louis 1; and Washington 7, Cincinnati 2.
The Phillies rallied from three runs down to tie Chicago in the fifth, and the score held until the ninth.
Murton started the inning with a double and went to third on Brett Myers' wild pitch. After Ronny Cedeno walked, Myers (1-3) also walked Jacque Jones intentionally to load the bases. Jason Kendall struck out, but with a 1-1 count on pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd, Myers unleashed another wild pitch that gave the Cubs the win.
``You can write I stink if you want,'' Myers said. ``I feel like that was my best pitch to get Cliff out right there. He didn't swing at it and it got past Carlos (Ruiz). ... Nine times out of 10 Carlos blocks that ball. It was a freaky game from the beginning tonight.''
Ryan Dempster (2-3) got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to earn the win.
It wasn't nearly as close in Milwaukee, where Ramon Castro and Marlon Anderson hit three-run homers off Claudio Vargas (9-3) to give the Mets a big early lead.
Oliver Perez (10-7) overcame a throwing error and a deep home run to Prince Fielder to record a season-high 11 strikeouts.
``Claudio went out in the first inning and was sharp, but came back out in the second and just couldn't get it going, and from that point on just really struggled,'' Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
In Los Angeles, Nomar Garciaparra upstaged Bonds again, hitting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth after Luis Gonzalez's tying two-run double off loser Randy Messenger (1-3).
In July 2006, Garciaparra also hit a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the eighth at Dodger Stadium to trump Bonds' 720th career home run.
``I don't know if I'm trying to steal anybody's thunder,'' Garciaparra said. ``I'm just trying to win ballgames, and today was a good win. We needed that win.''
Bonds was intentionally walked in the eighth by winner Jonathan Broxton (4-2) after the reliever fell behind 2-0 in the count. Fans booed the pitcher and headed for the exits before Fred Lewis had even made it to first to pinch run for Bonds.
Bochy said Bonds will ``most likely'' play in Thursday night's series finale.
``We don't want to jinx ourselves right now, but we're pitching him tough, and the pressure's on his side,'' the Dodgers' Russell Martin said. ``He's the one who has to break the record.''
Diamondbacks 9, Padres 5, 11 innings
At San Diego, Eric Byrnes' infield single with two outs in the 11th off Heath Bell (4-3) scored the go-ahead run, and pinch-hitter Chad Tracy followed with a three-run homer.
Arizona closer Jose Valverde (1-3) blew a save for the second straight appearance. He inherited a 5-2 lead but gave up Mike Cameron's RBI single and Milton Bradley's tying homer.
Braves 12, Astros 3
At Atlanta, Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs in his Atlanta debut, and Buddy Carlyle (6-3) got the win despite leaving the game after experiencing apparent discomfort while warming up in the sixth.
Wandy Rodriguez (7-10) gave up eight runs and six hits. He walked four batters and threw 55 pitches in Atlanta's seven-run first inning.
Marlins 4, Rockies 3
At Miami, Byung-Hyun Kim (6-5) survived a 37-pitch first inning and had a career-high 10 strikeouts to lead Florida.
Josh Fogg (5-7) allowed eight hits and four runs, three earned, in five-plus innings. Fogg was pitching on nine days' rest after his last scheduled start was rained out.
Pirates 15, Cardinals 1
At Pittsburgh, Ronny Paulino hit a grand slam in the first inning off Braden Looper (8-9), and Tony Armas won as a starter for the first time in more than 10 months.
Armas (1-3) limited the Cardinals to Aaron Miles' first home run over 6 1-3 innings. He gave up four hits, struck out five and walked one.
Nationals 7, Reds 2
At Washington, rookie John Lannan (1-0) took a shutout into the sixth - quite a turnaround from his big league debut last week, when he was ejected after hitting consecutive batters.
Bronson Arroyo (4-12) was lifted after allowing seven runs in 1 2-3 innings, the shortest start of his eight-year career.