CHICAGO – Just when it seemed Matt Cain could do no wrong, the Chicago Cubs came up with the kind of breakout innings that have landed them right back in the NL Central chase.
Carlos Zambrano pitched five shutout innings to become the National League’s first 12-game winner, Koyie Hill drove in a career-high five runs on a pair of doubles, and the surging Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 12-1.
Slugger Barry Bonds was held out of San Francisco’s starting lineup for the third straight day to rest his sore legs, and it might not have mattered. Zambrano (12-7) allowed two hits and the Cubs gave him more than enough offense in their fifth win in six games since the All-Star break and 17th in 22 overall.
Cain (3-11), the Giants’ hard-luck right-hander, didn’t allow a hit until Cliff Floyd’s two-out single started Chicago’s four-run fourth inning. Jacque Jones got Chicago on the board three batters later on a two-run single that glanced off first baseman Ryan Klesko’s glove into shallow right field.
Hill followed Klesko with a two-run double, then doubled again in the fifth with a drive off the center-field wall to score three. Floyd also added an RBI double earlier in the five-run inning.
Zambrano improved to 7-2 in his nine starts since fighting with then-Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on June 1. He went only five innings, likely a precaution with such a big lead after he took a ball off his hand on Dave Roberts’ leadoff groundout in the first.
Dodgers 5, Phillies 4
LOS ANGELES -Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer, Luis Gonzalez added a tiebreaking solo shot in the sixth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4.
The NL West-leading Dodgers won their second consecutive series since the All-Star break.
Rudy Seanez (6-1) got the victory by throwing one perfect inning of relief and striking out one. Starter Chad Billingsley allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, struck out four and walked four before turning it over to the bullpen, which gave up one hit in four scoreless innings.
Reds 5, Braves 4
ATLANTA – Brandon Phillips’ two-run single off rookie Jose Ascanio in the 15th inning gave the Cincinnati Reds a 5-4 victory over the Braves and their first three-game sweep in Atlanta since April 1990.
Phillips’ hit drove in Norris Hopper and Ken Griffey Jr. and helped the Reds improve to 8-3 in their last 11 games. Hopper reached on second baseman Kelly Johnson’s error to lead off the inning and Griffey singled to right with one out.
Ascanio (0-1), the seventh Atlanta pitcher, gave up two hits and two unearned runs in two innings. The Braves have lost three straight.
Jeff Francoeur singled in Andruw Jones to cut it to 5-4 in the bottom half of the 15th. Atlanta went on to put runners on first and second with two outs but Michael Gosling (1-0) struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Davies, a starting pitcher, to end the game.
Cardinals 6, Marlins 0
MIAMI – Kip Wells allowed two hits in eight innings, Juan Encarnacion drove in three runs and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Florida Marlins 6-0.
Wells (4-12) struck out four and walked two to win for the first time since he threw two shutout innings in relief against Kansas City on May 23. It was his first win in a start since he beat Pittsburgh on May 23.
Encarnacion had three hits and So Taguchi added two hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who chased struggling Florida starter Dontrelle Willis in the fourth. Albert Pujols also had two hits and drove in a run.
Nationals 7, Astros 6
WASHINGTON – Ryan Langerhans hit a three-run homer, Jason Bergmann won for the first time in more than two months, and the Washington Nationals held on to edge the Houston Astros 7-6.
Bergmann (2-5) was charged with four runs and six hits over six-plus innings, earning his first victory since May 14 when he took a no-hitter into the eighth against Atlanta. After that start, though, the right-hander went on the disabled list and has struggled since his return.
Rockies 5, Pirates 3
PITTSBURGH – Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton each hit two-run homers and the Colorado Rockies beat Pittsburgh 5-3, the Pirates’ sixth straight loss.
Jeff Francis (10-5) won his fifth decision in a row. He gave up six hits in seven innings, helped himself with an RBI single and left with a 5-2 lead.
Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche homered for Pittsburgh, which got swept in the three-game series and fell a season-low 14 games under .500.
Clint Hurdle won his 400th game with Rockies, becoming the second manager to reach that milestone. Don Baylor is the franchise’s leader with 440 wins. Francis, 9-1 in his past 13 starts, did not walk a batter and struck out six. He singled in the third off Ian Snell (7-7) to account for Colorado’s first run.
Athletics 6, Rangers 0
OAKLAND, Calif. – Lenny DiNardo pitched seven shutout innings and the Oakland A’s ended their longest losing streak in nine years with a 6-0 win over the Texas Rangers.
DiNardo, making his second start since taking Rich Harden’s spot in the rotation, allowed three hits, struck out three and walked none. The left-hander gave up a pair of doubles and a bunt single but was otherwise untouchable in the longest outing of his major league career.
Bobby Crosby homered and drove in two runs for Oakland, which had lost its previous nine games. The losing streak was the A’s longest since 1998 and had dropped them 12 games out of first place in the AL West.
White Sox 5, Indians 1
CLEVELAND – Mark Buehrle finally beat Cleveland for the first time in more than two years and Paul Konerko hit a two-run homer, leading the Chicago White Sox to a 5-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.
Buehrle (7-5) had been winless in his previous eight start against the Indians, last defeating them on July 16, 2005.
The left-hander, who threw a no-hitter earlier this season against Texas, was in control from the outset. He mixed looping curveballs and changeups with a sneaky fastball to keep the Indians off balance and scoreless until the seventh.
Buehrle walked one, struck out three, but most importantly, he kept the ball away from Chicago’s horrid bullpen as long as possible.
Devil Rays 7, Angels 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Ty Wigginton homered and Carlos Pena hit a three-run double to back Scott Kazmir’s strong pitching and lead the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Kazmir (7-6) allowed three hits and one run in seven innings to win for the second straight time at home after going more than a year without a victory at Tropicana Field.
The left-hander walked one and struck out six in his longest outing since going seven innings in a loss at Kansas City on June 1.
Wigginton’s streak of eight consecutive hits ended in the second inning against Bartolo Colon (6-5), but the Devil Rays second baseman homered off reliever Dustin Moseley to begin a four-run sixth.
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1
NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead double in the seventh inning and the surging New York Yankees won their fifth straight game, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1.
Roger Clemens pitched out of trouble for six gritty innings to keep New York close, and Andy Phillips delivered another clutch hit as the Yankees (48-44) moved a season-high four games above .500.
Mariano Rivera entered in the eighth and got five outs for his fourth save in five days.
By winning 11 of 14 overall, the Yankees have trimmed Boston’s AL East lead to seven games – the closest they’ve been since after games of May 12. They also gave manager Joe Torre a nice 67th birthday present.
Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu started the seventh-inning rally that got Yankee Stadium rocking for one of the few times all season. Eager for a second-half comeback and perhaps sensing the momentum building, the crowd of 52,147 chanted “MVP! MVP!” for Rodriguez as he stood at second after his big hit.
New York has won 17 of its last 22 home games.
Alex Rios had four hits, including a triple. He scored Toronto’s run on Troy Glaus’ two-out single in the first.
, but struck out against Rivera with runners at the corners to end the eighth.