MIAMI – The St. Louis Cardinals overcame right-hander Sidney Ponson’s departure after three innings because of elbow discomfort, beating woeful Florida 9-1 Sunday to complete their first series sweep in Miami in eight years.

Ponson, who’s off to a 3-0 start, was pulled for a pinch hitter after throwing 42 pitches. He earned his first career RBI with an infield hit, gave up one hit, walked two and retired the last five batters before leaving with the Cardinals ahead 2-0.

Braves 13, Mets 3

NEW YORK – John Smoltz threw six strong innings on three days’ rest and Jeff Francoeur hit a three-run homer to help the Braves avoid a three-game sweep.

Smoltz also drove in two runs and Brian Jordan added a solo home run for the Braves, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Nationals 5, Pirates 4

WASHINGTON – Rookie Mike O’Connor won for the second time in three starts since joining the Nationals’ rotation, and Jose Guillen hit a two-run homer.

O’Connor (2-1), allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in five innings, hitting two batters and throwing a wild pitch.

Jason Bergmann, Felix Rodriguez, Mike Stanton and Chad Cordero finished, with Cordero getting four outs for his third save.

Zach Duke (2-3) gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings for the Pirates, who dropped to 3-17 on the road this season.

Rockies 5, Astros 3

DENVER -Aaron Cook pitched into the ninth inning, Todd Helton hit a three-run homer and the Rockies finished off the three-game sweep.

Cook (3-3) allowed two runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out two, improving to 2-0 in three career starts against the Astros.

Cook attempted to get Colorado’s second consecutive complete game but Morgan Ensberg led off the ninth with a single and Jason Lane walked, chasing the right-hander from the game. Brian Fuentes got Brad Ausmus to hit into a double play before Adam Everett hit an RBI triple and Eric Bruntlett hit a run-scoring single to cut the lead to 5-3.

Fuentes then struck out pinch-hitter Craig Biggio with Bruntlett on first to finish his seventh save in eight chances.

Houston starter Fernando Nieve (1-1) allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. Lane hit a solo home run for the Astros.


AP-ES-05-07-06 1826EDT