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Loaiza outduels Martinez as Nationals win again

WASHINGTON (AP) - Esteban Loaiza outpitched Pedro Martinez, throwing eight strong innings to lead the surging Washington Nationals to a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the New York Mets.

Loaiza (5-5) allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked one for the Nationals, who have won seven of their last eight games.

Martinez (9-3) allowed three runs, eight hits, walked one and struck out six before leaving for a pinch-hitter after seven innings.

Brian Schneider had an RBI single in the second for Washington before a two-run seventh. Jose Vidro, activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, hit an RBI double and scored on Jose Guillen's third single of the game.

Loaiza left after Cliff Floyd singled to start the ninth. The Mets rallied for two runs against Chad Cordero before he retired pinch-hitter Brian Daubach on a popout with the tying run on third base to earn his major league-leading 30th save.

Pirates 3, Phillies 0

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Kip Wells pitched a four-hitter in his third career complete game and started a three-run Pittsburgh fifth inning with a double.

Jason Bay hit a two-run homer and Matt Lawton added a run-scoring double to support Wells (6-8).

The Phillies lost their 12th in 16 games and got a big scare in the first when Jose Castillo's hit a line hit off right-hander Jon Lieber's right elbow. X-rays did not reveal any broken bones.

Brewers 6, Marlins 4

MIAMI (AP) - Russell Branyan, in the lineup for the first time since breaking a finger June 1, had three hits and two RBIs.

Geoff Jenkins added three hits and scored three runs for Milwaukee.

Marlins starter Josh Beckett (8-6) left the game in the third inning with a strained left side muscle. The injury will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

Chris Capuano (9-6) pitched into the eighth to win his fourth straight start. Derrick Turnbow got his 17th save.

Juan Encarnacion had a two-run double for Florida.

Astros 6, Padres 2

HOUSTON (AP) - Brandon Backe ended a personal three-game losing streak, and Jason Lane hit a three-run homer as the Astros won for the sixth time in seven games.

Backe (7-6) allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Dennys Reyes (3-2) went 4 1-3 innings and allowed four runs and six hits in his first start of the season.

Brian Giles had three hits and two RBIs for San Diego.

Braves 5, Cubs 1

ATLANTA (AP) - Rookie Roman Colon outpitched Greg Maddux in his much-anticipated return to Atlanta.

Colon (1-4), making only his third career start, gave up seven hits and one run in seven innings.

Maddux (7-6), making his 622nd start and first appearance in Atlanta since leaving the Braves to sign with the Cubs following the 2003 season, allowed eight hits and five runs in six innings in a game delayed by rain for 1 hour, 59 minutes.

Marcus Giles was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the Braves' four-run fifth.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 1

DENVER (AP) - Todd Helton tied the Colorado franchise record for home runs, and Jeff Francis pitched another fine game at Coors Field.

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).

That was more than enough for Francis (8-5), who allowed one run and 11 hits over 7 1-3 innings and extended his scoreless streak to 14 1-3 straight innings before an RBI groundout in the eighth made it 6-1.

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 1

PHOENIX (AP) - Albert Pujols drove in two runs with three hits - including his 22nd homer - to extend his hitting streak to 17 games for St. Louis.

Pujols had a 30-game hitting streak in 2003. Jeff Suppan (8-7) went 5 1-3 innings, allowing a run and five hits.

So Taguchi had a solo homer and two RBIs. Reggie Sanders, back in the lineup after missing two games because of a strained right foot, added two RBIs.

Arizona's Shawn Estes (6-7) allowed six runs in 6 1-3 innings.