|Padres still lead, but crowded pack gaining ground in NL wild-card race|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 12 September 2007 23:33|
The San Diego Padres had better not look over their shoulder. The view back there is getting awfully crowded.
Chad Billingsley filled in for Derek Lowe and limited San Diego to one run over six innings, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers top the Padres 6-1 on Wednesday night and pull within 2 1/2 games of the NL wild-card leaders.
Meanwhile, Matt Holliday lined into a triple play in the first inning, then hit a three-run homer his next time up as the Colorado Rockies romped past the Phillies 12-0 in Philadelphia. Those two teams are also 2 1/2 games back of San Diego.
``The starting pitching sets the tone for any big series, and Billingsley again did it to us,'' said Padres manager Bud Black, whose club trails Arizona by 3 1/2 games in the NL West. ``We had him against the ropes a couple of times, but couldn't break through.''
Rookie James Loney homered for the fifth time in his last six games for the Dodgers, who won for just the third time in their last 11 games.
Billingsley (11-4) hadn't pitched since last Friday, so he had the normal rest between starts. But he wouldn't have thrown in the bullpen had he known his outing was being moved up.
``That's just Billingsley. He doesn't back down ever,'' Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. ``He always wants the ball.''
In other NL games Wednesday, it was: Arizona 9, San Francisco 4; New York 4, Atlanta 3; Pittsburgh 7, Milwaukee 4; Chicago 3, Houston 2; Cincinnati 5, St. Louis 1; and Florida 5, Washington 4 in 12 innings.
Billingsley allowed five hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 109 pitches before being lifted for a pinch hitter.
Things didn't go nearly as well for Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (8-4), who left in the fourth inning of the Rockies' rout after getting hit by Garrett Atkins' line drive. X-rays on his bruised knee were negative and Kendrick was day-to-day.
``I didn't get a chance to see it, but I felt it,'' Kendrick said, adding the swelling had gone down considerably by the time the game ended.
Not even turning their second triple play of the season could help the struggling Phillies, who are 4-7 since winning six straight to pull within two games of the NL East-leading Mets.
Things completely unraveled after Kendrick was knocked from the game.
Omar Quintanilla hit an RBI single and Troy Tulowitzki had a two-run single. Todd Helton added a three-run double off Clay Condrey for a 9-0 lead.
Cory Sullivan hit a solo homer off Francisco Rosario in the sixth, prompting a group of fans to get up, chant ``E-A-G-L-E-S,'' and leave the ballpark.
Mark Redman (1-4) earned his first win in his third appearance with the Rockies. The left-hander allowed two hits and struck out four.
``When you have a big lead like that, you go right after the hitters,'' Redman said. ``It was an off night for them.''
Loney had three hits, including a two-run homer off rookie Justin Germano (7-10), to raise his batting average to .322. Jeff Kent also homered for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers went ahead for good by scoring an unearned run in the second on Loney's one-out double, an error by right fielder Brian Giles and Martin's infield out. Rafael Furcal hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on a single by Juan Pierre in the third to make it 2-0.
That was all Billingsley needed to improve to 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA against the Padres in 25 2-3 innings this season.
Diamondbacks 9, Giants 4
At San Francisco, Mark Reynolds and Chris Snyder hit back-to-back home runs to back Brandon Webb (16-10) and the surging Diamondbacks.
Eric Byrnes had a sacrifice fly, Justin Upton a two-run double and Conor Jackson a two-run single in Arizona's four-run sixth off Jonathan Sanchez (1-4).
Mets 4, Braves 3
Shawn Green hit a tiebreaking single off Manny Acosta (0-1) in the eighth inning and host New York tightened its grip on first place in the NL East.
The Mets led 3-1 with two outs and nobody on in the eighth, but Atlanta rallied to tie it on Jeff Francoeur's two-run single off Guillermo Mota (2-1).
Billy Wagner worked a perfect ninth for his 34th save.
Pirates 7, Brewers 4
Ronny Paulino singled in the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth inning for Pittsburgh to knock visiting Milwaukee into a tie with Chicago for first place in the NL Central.
Josh Phelps followed Paulino's hit with a two-run triple off Derrick Turnbow (4-5), making a winner of John Grabow (3-1). Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances.
Cubs 3, Astros 2
At Houston, Rich Hill (9-8) allowed three hits over seven innings and Ryan Dempster gave up a run in the ninth before closing for his 26th save in 29 opportunities.
Cliff Floyd hit a solo homer in the second and tripled in the fourth off Houston starter Matt Albers (4-8).
Reds 5, Cardinals 1
Bronson Arroyo (9-14) allowed one run over six innings and Edwin Encarnacion had a homer and three RBIs as host Cincinnati handed St. Louis its season-high sixth straight loss.
The Cardinals are four games behind co-leaders Milwaukee and Chicago in the division.
Anthony Reyes (2-14) went 3 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and three runs for St. Louis.
Marlins 5, Nationals 4, 12 innings
At Miami, Todd Linden singled drove in the winning run off Saul Rivera (4-6) with two outs in the 12th inning to lift Florida.
Daniel Barone (1-2), the last of seven Marlins pitchers, pitched one scoreless inning.