Cubs cut down Nationals, 4-0

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CHICAGO – Carlos Zambrano pitched eight scoreless innings, Aramis Ramirez and Todd Walker drove in two runs apiece and the struggling Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 4-0 Tuesday night.

Zambrano (2-2) had his third straight strong start and his second win in a row as the Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak. Zambrano started off 0-2 over his first seven starts but he’s given up just one run over 23 innings in his last three outings.

Zambrano struck out eight, walked two and gave up four hits in Chicago’s first shutout of the season and just its second win in 14 games.

Both of the 24-year-old Venezuelan’s wins have ended losing streaks. Zambrano’s first victory, on May 10, snapped an eight-game skid. The Cubs won for just the second time in 14 games.

Rockies 5, Dodgers 1

DENVER – Brad Hawpe homered, threw out a runner at the plate and tied his career high with four RBIs and Byung-Hyun Kim withstood a shaky start to lead the Colorado Rockies past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Tuesday night.

Hawpe broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth when he sent the first pitch he saw from Derek Lowe into the left-field bleachers, 422 feet away for a three-run shot, his 10th.

Hawpe also had an RBI single in the second. He’s 6-for-8 lifetime against Lowe with two homers and six RBIs.

Matt Holliday, who tied his career high with four hits, added a run-scoring single in the fifth after the Dodgers had made wholesale defensive changes, including center fielder Kenny Lofton (tight left hamstring) and second baseman Jeff Kent (stiff lower back).

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Pirates 9, Reds 3

PITTSBURGH – Paul Maholm took a shutout into the eighth inning and Jeromy Burnitz came out of an extended slump to drive in four runs, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates past the still-slumping Cincinnati Reds 9-3 Tuesday night.

The Reds lost their fourth in a row and eighth in 12 games, a slide that dropped them out of first place in the NL Central. They have scored no more than one run in seven of those 12 games.

Maholm (2-4) gave up five hits in 7 1-3 innings, two to start the game following a 63-minute rain delay. But the left-hander got out of that early jam by picking Felipe Lopez off second base and striking out Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns and went on to strike out eight.

Braves 4, Marlins 3

ATLANTA – Matt Diaz singled in the winning run in the 11th inning as the Atlanta Braves rallied twice to beat the Florida Marlins 4-3 Tuesday night.

Behind a brilliant performance by Dontrelle Willis, the Marlins took a 2-1 lead to the ninth. But Jeff Francoeur tied it up with a homer that barely cleared the center-field fence.

The Marlins went ahead in the 11th, taking advantage of a defensive blunder by pitcher Macay McBride.

Brewers 3, Phillies 2

MILWAUKEE – Bill Hall scored the game-winning run on a throwing error by Ryan Franklin in the ninth inning to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

Damian Miller bunted to the third base side of the mound and Franklin (1-3) fired wildly to David Bell at third, allowing Hall to coast home on the error.

It was just the second loss in 15 games for the Phillies, while the Brewers improved to 3-1 on the current nine-game homestand. Milwaukee again came from behind to win – the 12th time in 14 home victories and 13th overall. Hall hit a double to leadoff the ninth and Franklin intentionally walked Corey Koskie to put two on and no out, setting up Miller’s at-bat.

Giants 14, Astros 3

HOUSTON – Nobody wants to surrender Barry Bonds’ next home run, and Astros right-hander Russ Springer wasn’t about to wind up on the wrong end of history Tuesday night.

He wound up and plunked the San Francisco slugger instead.

On the way to a Giants 14-3 victory over Houston, Bonds went 2-for-4 and drove in a run for the second straight day. But just when it looked like Bonds may be finding his stroke again, Springer couldn’t find the plate.

And Bonds still hasn’t found home run No. 714.

The wild confrontation began when Bonds led off the fifth inning. Springer’s first pitch sailed behind Bonds’ back, drawing a warning from plate umpire Joe West.

The next four pitches all came inside, including one that hit Bonds’ bat handle on the third delivery for strike one. On the fifth pitch, Springer plunked the Bonds in the right shoulder as he turned to protect himself.

That’s when Springer and manager Phil Garner got ejected – and the Houston crowd of 35,286 gave Springer a standing ovation. The pitcher, who had allowed one homer to Bonds previously, could pay for it with a fine and or suspension.

Bonds was unhurt and trotted down the first-base line and later scored on Jose Vizcaino’s RBI single to give the Giants a 12-3 lead.

He also remained stalled at 713 homers for his eighth straight game and one shy of tying Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. He gave way to defensive replacement Jason Ellison in the top of the sixth.

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