Another sparkling performance by Dennis Martinez almost wasn't enough for the Montreal Expos.
Martinez retired the first 17 batters he faced and allowed just two hits in eight innings, but it took Marquis Grissom's RBI single in the 11th to finally close out the Cincinnati Reds, 1-0, and give the Expos their seventh straight win."I went after them differently this time," said Martinez. "I went after them and I was aggressive. I got ahead on the count and when you do that as a pitcher, most of the time you'll get outs."
Martinez did manage to extend his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 24 and lower his league-leading ERA to 1.87, but couldn't nail down his tenth win. That task was left to reliever Barry Jones, 3-4, who pitched two innings of one hit relief. Scott Ruskin retired three straight in the 11th to close out the combined three-hitter and notch his fifth save.
"He's been so consistent to the point that he's close to dominating, " said Montreal Manager Tom Runnells of Martinez, who had earned the win his last three appearances. "He's that good right now."
Cincinnati ace Jose Rijo foiled Martinez' no-hit bid, roping a single to right with two outs in the sixth inning. With the game locked in a scoreless tie, Reds Manager Lou Piniella took a gamble with Rijo on first base. Unfortunately for the Reds, they lost a lot more than a scoring opportunity when Rijo was thrown out at second.
Rijo got a good jump, but he botched a feet-first slide, twisting the ankle in the process. Rijo hobbled off the field and will miss 4-6 weeks with a chipped bone in his right ankle.
"I had the base stolen, but I couldn't make up my mind whether to go in headfirst or not," Rijo said. "I went in on the wrong foot and my cleats stuck in the dirt."
Piniella defended his decision, but the loss of Rijo will be crippling to the struggling Reds.
"He didn't run on his own, I sent him," Piniella said. "He had the base stolen because they weren't holding him on, but he was undecided on the slide and his cleats caught.
"It was an 0-0 game and we were trying to win it. Pitchers are athletes and they practice sliding in spring training. What happened happened and it's unfortunate. But what the hell can you do?"
Dodgers 3, Pirates 2
At Los Angeles, Stan Javier's bad-hop single in the eighth inning scored Brett Butler with the go-ahead run, giving the surging Los Angeles Dodgers a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Dodgers' fifth straight triumph put them 15 games over .500 at 40-25 and gave them a six-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL West - their best position on both counts since the conclusion of their 1988 World Series championship season.
With the score 2-2, Butler led off the eighth by lining a single to left off John Smiley, 8-4. After Juan Samuel sacrificed, Javier's chopper hit the grass-dirt seam to the left of second base and caromed over the glove of shortstop Jay Bell as Butler scored to give the Dodgers the victory in the battle of division leaders.
Kevin Gross, 4-5, pitched two scoreless innings for the victory, his first since he moved to the bullpen May 29.
Pittsburgh slugger Bobby Bonilla strained a left calf muscle going from first to third on a single in the sixth inning and left the game. The injury also caused him to miss Monday night's game at San Diego.
Ramon Martinez, bidding for his 11th victory, pitched seven innings for Los Angeles and allowed two runs and four hits. Martinez and Gross combined to allowed just five Pittsburgh hits.
The Pirates scored twice with two out in the sixth to tie it 2-2. Martinez retired 12 straight and 16 of 17 batters, but walked Andy Van Slyke and Bonilla. Barry Bonds and Mitch Webster then followed with RBI singles.
Mets 9, Braves 7
Hubie Brooks hit two homers and drove in four runs and Dwight Gooden also homered as New York beat slumping Atlanta. The Braves have lost six of seven to fall seven games behind Cincinnati.
Brooks hit his 12th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, had a run-scoring double in the fourth and a solo homer in the eighth. There were eight home runs hit in the game, four by each team.
Gooden (7-5) got the victory despite giving up three home runs, two to Terry Pendleton. John Smoltz (2-9) took the loss.
Giants 4, Cubs 3
Robby Thompson and Will Clark had RBI singles and another run scored on a wild pitch in the seventh inning as San Francisco rallied to beat visiting Chicago, sending the Cubs to their sixth straight loss.
Francisco Oliveras (3-2) worked two innings in relief of rookie Mike Remlinger to get the win. Dave Righetti got the last three outs for his eighth save, allowing Jerome Walton's RBI single in the ninth. Les Lancaster (2-2) was the loser.
Phillies 7, Astros 3
Rookie Wes Chamberlain had four hits and John Kruk drove three runs to lead Philadelphia over Houston at Veterans Stadium.
Chamberlain, who played in 18 games for the Phillies in 1990 and saw brief action in April, was recalled from Scranton-Wilkes-Barre of the International League on June 15. He is 10-for-24 in six games since returning.
The Phillies took a 5-2 lead with three runs in the fourth off Jimmy Jones (4-5). The Astros have lost four straight.
Danny Cox (2-1), who came off the disabled list on June 17, gave up two runs and three hits in 52/3 innings for the victory.