Despite his losing record, a lot of people believed Andy Benes was better than that. Now, he's starting to show it.
Benes struck out 12, taking over the major league strikeout lead with 100, and the San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-2 Sunday for a three-game sweep.Benes (4-9) gave up two runs and six hits. He walked none and came within one strikeout of matching his career high.
"When you get ahead in the count, you can even try to throw better pitches," Benes said. "I just wanted to make good pitches. I don't try to strike people out."
Benes fanned the side in the seventh inning for a string of five consecutive strikeouts, but was lifted after the Giants scored an unearned run in the eighth. Trevor Hoffman worked the ninth for his 10th save.
The Padres won their first road series this season and completed their first sweep at Candlestick Park since April 1990. The Giants have lost four in a row overall and six straight at home.
"We got three good starts in this series and Benes was outstanding, having command of all his pitches," manager Jim Riggleman said.
Matt Williams hit his league-leading 22nd home run, giving the Giants a tie at 1 in the fourth inning.
An error by second baseman John Patterson helped the Padres take a 2-1 lead in the sixth off Bill Swift (7-4). Benes led off and reached on Patterson's misplay and Bip Roberts grounded into a forceout. Roberts scored on Tim Hyers' double over the head of leaping left fielder Barry Bonds.
The Padres chased Swift with three runs in the eighth inning for a 5-2 lead. Roberts, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games, and Hyers led off with singles. Tony Gwynn hit an RBI single, Phil Plantier had a sacrifice fly off Steve Frey and Ricky Gutierrez singled home a run.
The Giants got a run in the eighth on an error by Gutierrez at shortstop and an RBI single by Dave Martinez.
"I've never seen nine guys in the lineup not hitting," Swift said. "You know you can't give up many runs. That's the hard thing."
"I knew it would be that way today because of the way Benes was throwing," he said. "It's hard to believe he's lost nine games."
In the third, Gutierrez and Brad Ausmus singled and Roberts had a sacrifice fly.
Braves 3, Astros 1
In Houston, Greg Maddux became the first 10-game winner in the major leagues Sunday, working around 11 hits and leading the Atlanta Braves past the Houston Astros.
Maddux (10-2), trying to become the first pitcher to win three straight Cy Young Awards, lowered his ERA to 1.38, also the best mark in the majors.
Maddux walked none and struck out four in his fourth complete game. He was helped by three double plays.
Kansas City's David Cone had a chance to win his 10th game Sunday night in Texas.
Greg Swindell (5-3) gave up two runs and eight hits in eight innings. He struuck out five and walked one. The Braves scored in the ninth off John Hudek when Roberto Kelly singled and scored on a double by Fred McGriff, who went 4-for-4.
Mets 5, Expos 4
In New York, Kevin McReynolds homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs, hitting a leadoff home run in the eighth inning that gave the New York Mets a victory over Montreal.
The Mets stopped a five-game losing streak. The Expos lost for only the fourth time in 13 games.
McReynolds' fourth home run of the season gave him 12 two-homer games in his career. He connected in the eighth off Mel Rojas (2-2), who struck out four in two innings.
Josias Manzanillo (1-1) pitched 12/3 innings and was the winner. John Franco worked the ninth for his 14th save - and 250th of his career - by getting Marquis Grissom to ground into a game-ending double play with runners on first and second.
Rockies 3, Reds 2
In Cincinnati, Charlie Hayes had three clutch hits to help the Colorado Rockies overcome more bad luck and blown leads for a victory over the Cincinnati Reds and their first-ever win at Riverfront Stadium.
Hayes doubled home a run in the second, hit a solo homer in the fifth and doubled and scored the tie-breaking run on Nelson Liriano's ninth-inning single off Hector Carrasco (3-3).
Steve Reed (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win that snapped Colorado's 10-game losing streak at Riverfront, its worst mark at any stadium. Bruce Ruffin pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Dodgers 2, Cubs 1
In Chicago, Tom Candiotti pitched a five-hitter and Mike Piazza singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Chicago.
The Cubs lost for the 11th time in 12 games. They dropped to 10-22 at home with their eighth loss in nine games at Wrigley Field.
Candiotti (5-2) walked none and struck out seven in his fourth complete game. He gave up a two-out double to Sammy Sosa in the ninth, but retired Derrick May on a grounder to end it.
Tim Wallach homered for Los Angeles and Sosa connected for the Cubs.
The score was tied at 1 when Brett Butler opened the eighth with a double and took third on Jose Offerman's sacrifice. Piazza singled to left field off Anthony Young (3-5).
Pirates 5, Marlins 1
In Pittsburgh, Dave Clark went 4-for-4 and drove in four runs and rookie Jon Lieber pitched five-hit ball over eight innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates finished off a four-game sweep of the Florida Marlins.
Clark hit a two-run homer and two doubles and is 8-for-10 lifetime against Dave Weathers (6-5), who is 0-3 against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates' sweep ran their winning streak to five games and came almost a year to the day they were swept June 10-13, 1993, in Miami, the first four-game sweep in the expansion Marlins' history.
Lieber (2-2), a right-hander who began the season at Double-A Carolina, continued the Pirates' recent succession of strong starts, striking out three and walking three while lowering his ERA to 2.08.