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Hitting is catching with Mets

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Since Mike Piazza arrived in New York, good hitting has been contagious for the Mets.

Bernard Gilkey's two-run single in the eighth inning gave the Mets their ninth straight win, 8-6 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.Seven of the wins have come since Piazza arrived from Florida. In five of the last six games, New York has had at least 15 hits, including a season-high 19 Sunday.

"Piazza means a lot to their lineup," Phillies manager Terry Francona said. "Hitting is contagious."

Gilkey, who is hitting in front of Piazza, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the trade, batting .483 (14-for-29) over his last seven games, with five doubles, two homers and six RBIs.

Piazza, who has hit safely in all seven games (13-for-39, .419) and had three singles Sunday, says it's a team effort.

Carlos Baerga and Edgardo Alfonzo also have been hot during the Mets' streak. Baerga, who didn't start but came into the game in the fifth inning, went 2-for-3, giving him a .461 average (18-for-39), four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games.

Alfonzo went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the first and a two-run triple in the third, giving him eight RBIs and a .522 average (12-for-23) in his last five starts.

Mel Rojas (3-0) pitched two shutout innings for the win and John Franco pitched the ninth for his 12th save. Darrin Winston (2-1) took the loss.

CUBS 4, BRAVES 2: Kevin Tapani (7-3) pitched 7 1-3 strong innings as Chicago swept the Braves for the first time in nine years.

Matt Mieske, Manny Alexander, Scott Servais and Tapani each hit RBI singles against Denny Neagle (7-2) in a four-run sixth inning for the Cubs.

Chipper Jones and Andres Galarraga hit solo homers for Atlanta.

Rod Beck pitched the ninth for his 15th save.

PADRES 7, CARDINALS 3: Tony Gwynn drove in three runs on two doubles to help Kevin Brown win his second straight start.

Mark McGwire didn't homer, but had a two-run single in the first inning as visiting St. Louis took a short-lived 3-0 lead against Brown (5-3). McGwire ended May with a major league-leading 27 homers, eclipsing by three Ken Griffey Jr.'s year-old record for most homers through the first two months of the season.

Sean Lowe (0-1) was the loser.

ROCKIES 7, ASTROS 5: Dante Bichette hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth to give Colorado the victory.

Bichette's blast off Doug Henry (3-2) helped the Rockies maintain their home mastery over the Astros, who are 6-21 in Denver. Chuck McElroy (1-1) pitched two perfect innings for the win.

Moises Alou homered twice and drove in four runs for the Astros.

REDS 6, DODGERS 5: Bret Boone hit two home runs, and Dmitri Young drove in the winning run in the top of the ninth with a double off first baseman Eric Karros' glove.

Cincinnati tied the game when Reggie Sanders hit a leadoff homer in the ninth off Scott Radinsky (1-2), who blew his second save in three days.

Danny Graves (1-0) got the win, and Jeff Shaw pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.

GIANTS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4: Kirk Rueter (7-3) allowed one run in seven innings, and Brian Johnson homered twice as host San Francisco won its third straight. Arizona starter Jeff Suppan (1-6) allowed both homers by Johnson.

PIRATES 9, EXPOS 4: Jermaine Allensworth broke an 0-for-15 slide with a two-run double, keying a four-run fourth inning that carried Pittsburgh.

Tony Womack added a triple and two RBIs to back Francisco Cordova (6-3), who allowed two runs in seven innings.

Miguel Batista (1-3) took the loss.

BREWERS 7, MARLINS 6: Darrin Jackson scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error as Milwaukee won its fifth straight.

Reliever Antonio Alfonseca (0-2) hit Jackson to start the eighth. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk to pinch-hitter Jeromy Burnitz, shortstop David Berg threw away the return throw of a potential double play, allowing Jackson to score.

Brad Woodall (2-2) pitched two shutout innings for the win, and Bob Wickman got his second save.