The success of the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies directly corresponds to the accomplishments of Mike Piazza and Eric Karros.
On Monday night, those two came up with the big hits as the Dodgers won.On Tuesday night, they came up empty as Colorado beat Los Angeles 7-3 to move back into first place in the NL West by a half-game.
Larry Walker hit two home runs and Bret Saberhagen won for the first time in nearly eight weeks, but as Rockies manager Don Baylor pointed out, the game turned in the last of the sixth. Piazza and Karros, who combined for all their team's RBIs in a 4-3 victory a night earlier, faced Darren Holmes with one out, the bases loaded and the Dodgers trailing 4-3.
Piazza popped to second and Karros struck out to end the threat, and the Dodgers, who stranded 10 in the first six innings, got only one baserunner aboard after that.
"He hung in there and did exactly what he was supposed to do," Baylor said of Holmes, the third of six Colorado pitchers.
With five days left in the season and one game left in this series, the Rockies lead the division by a half-game. Los Angeles leads Houston by a half-game in the wild card race.
Walker's second homer of the game off Tom Candiotti (7-14), a two-run shot to right-center following a leadoff walk to Dante Bichette in the sixth, snapped a 2-2 tie.
It was the third two-homer game of the season for Walker, who has a career-high 34.
Ellis Burks hit a two-out, two-run single off Pedro Astacio in the eighth and Joe Girardi had a two-out RBI single in the ninth to complete the scoring.
The Dodgers got an unearned run in the last of the sixth before Holmes' heroics. Raul Mondesi reached on an error by third baseman Vinny Castilla and took second on pinch-hitter Dave Hansen's one-out single. Mike Munoz relieved and gave up an RBI single to Brett Butler before walking Chad Fonville on four pitches to load the bases.
Astros 2, Pirates 0
Before an announced crowd of just 14,307 at the Astrodome, Houston scored both its runs in the fifth inning on infield grounders.
With two outs, James Mouton walked and Greg Swindell singled off Denny Neagle (13-8) to load the bases. Brian Hunter followed with a grounder to second baseman Carlos Garcia, who dropped the ball for an error. Biggio then grounded the ball to third baseman Nelson Liriano, who could not make a throw as Mouton scored the second run.
Swindell (9-9) got his first victory as a starter since July 29, allowing six hits in the first three innings, but none in the next three.
Braves 5, Phillies 1
At Philadelphia, Ryan Klesko had a three-run homer and four RBIs, and John Smoltz (12-7) broke his six-game losing streak against the Phillies. Smoltz worked five innings, allowing two hits and one run while striking out five and walking three.
Expos 5, Marlins 4
At Miami, Montreal was one strike away from a loss, but Wil Cordero doubled home the tying run and scored on Tim Laker's single off Robb Nen (0-7).
Cubs 3, Cardinals 2
At Chicago, Steve Trachsel (7-13) won for just the second time in 14 starts this season at Wrigley Field. Mark Grace had his career-high 15th homer and Scott Bullett tripled in the winning run in the seventh.
Padres 6, Giants 3
At San Francisco, Andy Ashby (12-10) won his third straight start and Melvin Nieves homered for the second straight day.