Wednesday, August 18, 2004

NL: Slumping Phillies shut out by Astros

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - Once Roy Oswalt stopped trying to overthrow, the Philadelphia Phillies' hitters had little chance.

Oswalt and two relievers combined on a five-hitter, and Raul Chavez hit a three-run double in the Houston Astros' 5-0 victory over the free-falling Phillies on Tuesday night.

Oswalt (13-8) allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked two in 7 2/3 innings to win his fifth straight decision. Mike Gallo got one out in the eighth, and Dan Miceli pitched a perfect ninth for the Astros' third win in nine games - and their 10th shutout this season.

"Pitching on five days' rest, I was trying to throw too hard," Oswalt said. "I was all over the place. After the third inning, I got in a rhythm."

The Phillies, who came in five games behind the Giants in the NL wild-card race, were shut out for the fourth time and fell to 1-7 on their current homestand.

At 59-60, Philadelphia is under .500 for the first time since May 7.

"I've stayed up too many nights trying to analyze this offense," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "They're playing hard. They're just not hitting."

Phillies starter Randy Wolf (5-8) retired eight in a row before running into trouble in the fourth.

Craig Biggio and Carlos Beltran started the inning with consecutive doubles to make it 1-0. After Jeff Bagwell flied out, Lance Berkman walked. Jeff Kent doubled to score Beltran, giving Houston a 2-0 lead.

Morgan Ensberg walked to load the bases and Jose Vizcaino's grounder to third forced Berkman out at the plate. But Chavez, who had 12 RBI in 107 previous at-bats, cleared the bases with a liner down the right-field line.

The Phillies got just one runner to third base - in the sixth - but Mike Lieberthal popped out to shortstop with runners on first and third to end the inning, earning a loud chorus of boos from fans who have turned on the struggling former All-Star catcher.

Wolf allowed five runs and six hits in seven innings, losing for the fifth time in nine starts.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1

MILWAUKEE - Victor Santos allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings for Milwaukee to win for the first time since beating Chicago on July 16.

Bill Hall had a two-run triple for the last-place Brewers, who were helped by Nomar Garciaparra's error and improved to 7-5 against the Cubs this season.

Santos (10-8), who had lost five straight starts, struck out six, walked one and allowed five hits. He gave up his only run in the second, when Sammy Sosa put the Cubs ahead with his 26th homer of the season.

Santos, who didn't reach the fifth inning in his previous three starts, rebounded in the third to strike out Sosa with the bases loaded. Sosa has just eight hits in his last 51 at-bats, a .157 average.

Santos improved to 3-1 against the Cubs this season. He is 3-6 at home.

Dan Kolb pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 37 chances, completing a seven-hitter.

Carlos Zambrano (11-7), who lost for the first time in four starts since July 24, gave up three runs - two earned - and five hits in six innings. Chicago, fighting for the NL wild card-berth, has lost four of its last five games and seven of 10.

Pirates 7, Diamondbacks 1

PHOENIX - Craig Wilson and Ty Wigginton each hit home runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to their fourth straight win.

Ryan Vogelsong (4-9) scattered six hits over seven innings for the Pirates, who won for the eighth time in 10 games. He allowed one run and struck out four in his longest outing since May 8 against Los Angeles, a span of 11 starts and 16 appearances.

Luis Terrero hit his first major league homer for the Diamondbacks, who lost their sixth straight at home and have dropped 16 of 17 overall. Arizona is 7-35 under interim manager Al Pedrique.

Stephen Randolph (2-3) pitched three innings in his first major league start for Arizona after 89 straight relief appearances. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out three and walked three.

Rockies 6, Mets 4

DENVER - Jason Jennings overcame a slow start to pitch seven solid innings and Matt Holliday drove in the go-ahead run with a solo homer off Dan Wheeler (3-1) in the sixth for the Rockies.

Jennings added two hits and drove in a run, Aaron Miles had three hits and two RBIs, and Vinny Castilla eclipsed the 100-RBI mark to help the Rockies end a seven-game losing streak to the Mets.

Shawn Chacon pitched the ninth to become the third Colorado pitcher to save 30 games in a season.

Richard Hidalgo had two doubles and three RBIs, but the Mets couldn't overcome the early loss of starter Victor Zambrano to a sore elbow.

Jennings (11-10) allowed three runs and seven hits, striking out six - including Cliff Floyd four times.

Dodgers 6, Marlins 1

LOS ANGELES - Wilson Alvarez won his fourth straight decision, and Steve Finley and Adrian Beltre each homered and drove in a pair of runs to lead the Dodgers.

Alvarez (7-3), facing A.J. Burnett (3-6) in a matchup of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters, allowed an unearned run and six hits in seven innings while striking out six and walking one.

Burnett allowed three runs, four hits and two walks over six innings and struck out nine. He's 0-6 in seven road starts this season and 0-8 in 11 road outings since beating Montreal on July 27, 2002.

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