Grace delivers again as Arizona takes NL West lead

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Mark Grace had gotten plenty of clutch hits in the past.

So rather than pull him back for a pinch-hitter, Arizona manager Bob Brenly once again let the old pro step up in a key spot.

Good decision.

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Grace delivered a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning that sent the Diamondbacks over the San Francisco Giants 5-3 Tuesday.

The victory at Pacific Bell Park put Arizona back into first place in the NL West. Grace, batting left-handed, came through against lefty reliever Aaron Fultz.

''I thought about pinch-hitting for Gracie, but he's come through with so many big hits the past year and a half,'' Brenly said. ''He looks forward to these opportunities.''

Said Grace: ''Once I didn't hear any whistles or anything calling me back I thought, well, let's go do it.''

Grace, whose leadoff single began Arizona's ninth-inning rally in Game 7 of last year's World Series, helped the Diamondbacks move a half-game ahead of Los Angeles.

Barry Bonds hit his 595th career home run, connecting off Randy Johnson, as the Giants fell two games back.

Bonds homered in his second straight game against Johnson. Before that, Bonds had never homered off the Big Unit.

Bonds' 28th homer pulled the Giants within 3-2 in the sixth. Reggie Sanders connected off Johnson (13-3) to tie it in the seventh.

''My first homer ever off Randy feels pretty good. It was a hanging slider and he rarely does that,'' Sanders said.

Cardinals 9, Dodgers 2

Edgar Renteria went 4-for-4 and St. Louis won its fourth in a row. The victory at Dodger Stadium moved the NL Central leaders a season-high 12 games over .500.

Renteria drove in two runs and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by Hideo Nomo in the seventh inning. Nomo had been 7-0 in 11 starts since May 12.

Andy Benes, out since April 16 because of an arthritic right knee, came off the 60-day disabled list and allowed two runs and three hits in four innings for the Cardinals.

Braves 2, Cubs 0

Kevin Millwood struck out a season-high 11 at Wrigley Field as Atlanta stopped a three-game losing streak. Millwood won his sixth straight decision, allowing two hits in seven innings.

Chicago batters struck out 16 times against Millwood, Mike Remlinger and John Smoltz.

Gary Sheffield had three hits for the Braves, and has reached base in a franchise-record 43 straight games.

Phillies 6, Expos 3

Randy Wolf beat Montreal with his arm and bat as Philadelphia won at Olympic Stadium. Wolf pitched seven innings, and also had a double and an RBI single. Marlon Anderson added a three-run double for the Phillies.

There was a seven-minute delay after Phillies shortstop Tomas Perez caught a foul popup by Vladimir Guerrero that hit the stadium's concrete rim.

Expos manager Frank Robinson argued that it was a dead ball. Third-base umpire Jerry Meals called Guerrero out.

Padres 5, Rockies 1

Jake Peavy earned his first major league victory, pitching San Diego past Colorado. The 21-year-old rookie, who had lost his first three decisions, gave up one run in seven innings.

Ron Gant hit a three-run homer in the first inning at San Diego.

Mets 10, Marlins 5

Edgardo Alfonzo and Mo Vaughn homered as New York won at Shea Stadium.

Florida lost its season-worst sixth in a row. The Marlins haven't won since trading Cliff Floyd and Ryan Dempster last Thursday.

Alfonzo drove in four runs and Timo Perez hit a bases-loaded triple. Vaughn hit his 13th home run, and eighth in 17 games.

Pirates 7, Astros 3

Brian Giles homered and drove in four runs as Pittsburgh won at Houston.

Daryle Ward and Richard Hidalgo hit consecutive solo homers for the Astros, who have lost three straight. The Associated Press