What's this? Two teams in the National League Central playing .500 ball?
That's right, the St. Louis Cardinals joined the Houston Astros atop baseball's weakest division Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.A 34-34 record is a long way from challenging the Atlanta Braves for NL supremacy, but it's a start.
Donovan Osborne pitched seven solid innings as the Cardinals won their fourth straight game, improving to .500 for the first time since April 26 (12-12). The Cardinals eventually dropped to 17-26.
The Cardinals entered the season full of promise as manager Tony La Russa began his first season with the club. St. Louis brought in free agents Ron Gant, Andy Benes, Todd Stottlemyre, Gary Gaetti and Royce Clayton in the offseason and suddenly there was renewed confidence in one of baseball's best cities.
The Phillies have lost 11 of 12 and are in last place in the NL East.
Osborne (6-3) gave up a two-run homer to Todd Zeile in the sixth, but won for the fifth time in six decisions. He allowed five hits and one walk.
Dennis Eckersley got the last three outs for his 11th save. It was his third save since he came off the disabled list June 13, and he has not allowed a hit in 3 2-3 innings.
Giants 9, Marlins 8, 15 innings
At San Francisco, Pat Rapp threw a wild pitch while attempting to intentionally walk Matt Williams in the 15th and Marvin Benard slid home with the winning run.
The Giants had blown an 8-3 lead with two outs in the ninth. Gary Sheffield's game-tying, three-run homer off Rod Beck forced extra innings. In the 15th, Benard singled, took second on a sacrifice by Steve Scarsone and advanced to third on a groundout.
Rapp (3-9) then threw high to catcher Charles Johnson, who got his glove on the ball, but was unable to locate it after it dropped behind him. Benard broke for the plate and was called safe after sliding under Rapp's tag.
Braves 5, Padres 3
At Atlanta, Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning. Jones hit a 1-0 pitch from Joey Hamilton (8-4) over the left-field fence for his 11th homer. The shot scored Mark Lemke, who had singled.
It was the 14th loss in 16 games for the Padres, who fell a game behind Los Angeles in the NL West. San Diego stranded 14 baserunners. Brad Clontz (4-2) picked up the win, and Mark Wohlers got his 13th save in 14 chances.
Reds 6, Astros 4, 10 innings
At Houston, Eric Davis homered leading off the 10th and Jeff Branson brought in another run with a squeeze bunt.
Davis hit an 0-1 pitch from Xavier Hernandez (0-3) over the left-field scoreboard for his 14th homer. Hal Morris followed with a single, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a wild pitch. Branson then bunted toward the right side of the mound to easily score Morris.
The Astros had tied it 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth on Bill Spiers' homer off Jeff Brantley (1-1). Reggie Sanders homered for the Reds.
Expos 12, Rockies 8
At Denver, Mike Lansing hit two homers, including a grand slam in the eighth inning, and drove in seven runs.
The Rockies erased a 7-3 deficit with four runs in the seventh on a three-run homer by Dante Bichette - his second of the game - and a solo shot by Vinny Castilla.
But with one out in the eighth, Lenny Webster singled off Darren Holmes (2-2) and pinch-hitter Darrin Fletcher doubled. The Rockies intentionally walked Mark Grudzielanek, who had four singles, to load the bases, and Lansing hit a 432-foot homer to left center.
Dodgers 9, Cubs 6
Cubs 7, Dodgers 4
At Chicago, rookie Brant Brown hit two solo home runs in the second game, giving him three for the day and three for his career, to give Chicago a split.
Brown, who entered the game 1-for-6 since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on June 15, had three hits in the second game and went 4-for-6 for the afternoon.