WASHINGTON – Esteban Loaiza summoned one of his best performances of the season to win a pitchers’ duel against Pedro Martinez, throwing eight strong innings Tuesday night to lead the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.

Loaiza (5-5) allowed six hits, struck out eight, walked one for the Nationals, who have won seven of their last eight and 10 of 12. Loaiza has won four of his last five starts after enduring a spate of no-decisions with little run support early in the season.

Loaiza made Brian Schneider’s RBI single in the second inning hold up for most of the evening before a two-run seventh put the Nationals firmly in command.

Royals 8, Mariners 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David DeJesus drove in three runs, shaking Kansas City out of its offensive doldrums and leading the Royals to an 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

DeJesus had a two-run single and an RBI double and Angel Berroa had a two-run triple for the Royals, who had lost 14 of 16 and been shut out three of their last four games. Their punchless offense had scored in only one of 38 innings before stringing together four singles and a walk and scoring four off Gil Meche in the second.

Pirates 3, Phillies 0

PITTSBURGH – Kip Wells pitched a four-hitter in only his third career complete game and started a three-run Pittsburgh fifth inning with a double, leading the Pirates to a 3-0 victory over Philadelphia.

Jason Bay hit a two-run homer and Matt Lawton added a run-scoring double to support Wells (6-8) – the first runs the Pirates have scored with Wells on the mound in a span of five starts dating to June 14. Wells went 0-4 during the stretch, yielding 20 earned runs and 26 hits in 16 2-3 innings.

The fading Phillies not only lost their 12th in 16 games, they also got a big scare in the first inning when the Pirates’ Jose Castillo hit a line drive off right-hander Jon Lieber’s right elbow. X-rays did not reveal any broken bones, but it is not yet certain if Lieber can start as scheduled Sunday against the Nationals.

Astros 6, Padres 2

HOUSTON – Starter Brandon Backe ended a personal three-game losing streak and Jason Lane hit a three-run homer to break open a close game as the Houston Astros beat the San Diego Padres 6-2.

The Astros have won six of their last seven and 12 of 15. San Diego lost for the fifth time in its last eight games and has dropped eight of 13.

Brewers 6, Marlins 4

MIAMI – Russell Branyan celebrated his return to the lineup with three hits and two RBIs, and Geoff Jenkins had three hits and scored three runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Florida Marlins 6-4.

Marlins starter Josh Beckett (8-6) left the game in the third inning with a strained left side muscle, after allowing six hits and three runs.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 1

DENVER – Todd Helton tied the franchise record for home runs and Jeff Francis pitched another fine game at Coors Field, lifting the Colorado Rockies to a 6-1 victory over the injury-riddled Los Angeles Dodgers.

Helton’s two-run homer in the seventh was the 258th of his career, tying Larry Walker for the team record. Helton finished with three hits and three RBIs, and struggling J.D. Closser hit a three-run homer off Odalis Perez (4-5).

to give the Rockies a 3-0 lead in the second.


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