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Astros regain NL Central lead

The Associated Press

The Milwaukee Brewers decided to pitch to Carl Everett with the game on the line.

Thursday, August 19, 1999

The Milwaukee Brewers decided to pitch to Carl Everett with the game on the line. Everett made them pay.

Everett, hitting .475 since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 6, hit a two-run double during a five-run rally in the eighth inning that gave the Houston Astros a 6-4 win over the Brewers on Wednesday night.

The win gave the Astros a one-game lead in the NL Central over Cincinnati, which lost to Pittsburgh 12-6.

”This was a team victory,” Everett said. ”Russ Johnson came up with the big hit to start us off. Then we just kept going.”

Milwaukee starter Hideo Nomo took a 4-1 lead into the eighth, but singles by pinch-hitter Johnson and Craig Biggio and a walk to pinch-hitter Ken Caminiti loaded the bases.

With Jeff Bagwell at the plate, a wild pitch by reliever Eric Plunk (2-3) scored a run. After Bagwell struck out, Everett followed with a double to deep right field that tied it at 4.

Astros manager Larry Dierker thought the Brewers might walk Everett, but Everett wasn’t surprised that they pitched to him.

”They pitched to Jeff Bagwell and he’s proven himself over the last 10 years,” he said. ”If they’re going to pitch to Jeff Bagwell, I know they’ll pitch to me.”

Everett stole third and Lance Berkman walked with one out. Reliever Bob Wickman struck out Bill Spiers before Paul Bako singled home the go-ahead run. Ricky Gutierrez added an RBI single for the Astros, who won their third straight and handed the Brewers their fourth consecutive loss.

Houston starter Mike Hampton failed to become the first 17-game winner in the NL. Hampton, who had won his last seven decisions, allowed five hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

Phillies 6, Cardinals 5

Mark McGwire hit his major league-leading 48th homer, but St. Louis lost at home.

Mike Lieberthal hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Phillies avoided a three-game sweep. McGwire’s two-run shot in the first inning was his 505th homer, moving him past Eddie Murray into 15th place on the career list.

Mets 9, Padres 1

Masato Yoshii pitched a six-hitter, and Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza each homered and drove in three runs at San Diego as New York regained sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Yoshii (8-8) allowed a run in the first inning on Tony Gwynn’s RBI double, then retired 16 straight batters until Eric Owens hit a two-out triple in the sixth.

The victory, combined with Atlanta’s 4-1 loss at Colorado, broke New York’s first-place tie with the Braves. After going 139 consecutive games without a complete game – one shy of the major league record – Mets starters have two in their last four outings.

Rockies 4, Braves 1

Larry Walker hit two homers, including a three-run shot off John Rocker in the ninth inning at Denver.

Walker, leading the NL with a .360 average, also hit a solo shot in the first off Kevin Millwood. He has 32 homers this season, including four multihomer games.

Giants 5, Expos 4

At San Francisco, Barry Bonds and Charlie Hayes hit two-run homers and Russ Ortiz got his 14th victory.

Ortiz (14-8) gave up four runs and 11 hits in eight-plus innings. He allowed a home run to Rondell White leading off the game. Montreal’s Vladimir Guerrero tripled to extend his hitting streak to 24 games.

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1

Arizona swept three games from Chicago for the second time in 10 days, beating the visiting Cubs behind the pitching of Andy Benes and solo home runs by Erubiel Durazo and Steve Finley.

The Cubs lost for the 10th time in 11 games amid increasing speculation that manager Jim Riggleman will soon be fired.

Benes (8-11) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out three in eight innings. Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 against Benes, including two strikeouts.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 0

Darren Dreifort pitched his first shutout at Dodger Stadium, and Todd Hundley homered twice as Los Angeles defeated Florida.

Dreifort (10-12) gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out four for his second career shutout. In addition to pitching his second complete game in 50 major league starts, Dreifort doubled, singled and scored a run.