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STRIKE MAY HELP JEFF BAGWELL’S BROKEN HAND

SHARE STRIKE MAY HELP JEFF BAGWELL’S BROKEN HAND

If there's such a thing as a well-timed injury, Jeff Bagwell's got one.

Bagwell, the NL's leading MVP candidate, broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday night in the Houston Astros' 3-1 win over San Diego.Bagwell, who broke the same hand last season, will be sidelined three to five weeks - just in time for the players' strike.

"I hope the sucker lasts three to five weeks, at least," Houston manager Terry Collins said.

Bagwell, the majors' RBI leader, was struck by a pitch from Andy Benes in the third inning. He left in the fifth inning after taking a called third strike, and was taken to a hospital for X-rays.

Steve Finley homered and Darryl Kile (9-6) pitched six strong innings to lead the Astros within one-half game of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Reds lost 6-3 to Los Angeles.

Giants 5, Cubs 2

At Chicago, Matt Williams, whose chase of Roger Maris' home run record is jeopardized by the pending strike, hit No. 43 and added a two-run double for the Giants.

Cardinals 12, Marlins 4

At Miami, Omar Olivares pitched seven innings and hit his third career homer to lead St. Louis.

Mets 6, Phillies 2

At Philadelphia, Joe Orsulak singled in the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth-inning rally to lead Bret Saberhagen and the Mets.

Expos 4, Pirates 0

At Pittsburgh, Pedro Martinez beat Pittsburgh quickly and quietly, pitching six-hit ball over 82/3 innings as streaking Montreal won for the 20th time in 22 games.

Dodgers 6, Reds 3

At Cincinnati, Eric Karros' leadoff homer sparked a four-run ninth inning rally that ended Cincinnati's late-inning invincibility.

Rockies 1, Braves 0, 6 innings, rain

At Denver, Kevin Ritz and Steve Reed combined to shut out Atlanta through six innings and the Rockies earned their first home win ever against the Braves.