• 52°

Patterson#039;s 4-hitter helps restore confidence for Nationals

The Associated Press

The Washington Nationals no longer feel like the team that played so poorly in July.

John Patterson pitched a four-hitter for his first shutout, and the Nationals won consecutive games for the first time in a month by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-0 Thursday night.

A dismal end of the month - Washington hadn't won a series since July 1-3 - cost the Nationals first place in the NL East, but they may be regaining their swagger.

''You see that little look in their eye that's been missing for a while,'' manager Frank Robinson said. ''It looks like the confidence level is back.''

The Nationals will need it as they head into a difficult six-game stretch. They host NL West leader San Diego for three games before going to Houston for three games against the Astros.

With Houston's loss at Arizona, the Nationals are within one game of the Astros for the wild-card lead.

Patterson (5-3) struck out a career-high 13 and didn't allow a runner past second base. He struck out everyone in the Dodgers' starting lineup at least once.

''I haven't seen anybody pitch better all year,'' said Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley, who was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. ''It was definitely a special night for him.''

Patterson has a 1.02 ERA with 54 strikeouts over his past six starts and would have a much better record if not for the poor run support he has received.

That changed Thursday, thanks to Brad Wilkerson's grand slam and RBIs by Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman. The Nationals had been the only team in the majors without a grand slam.

''It just feels good to score more than four or five runs,'' Wilkerson said.

Patterson took care of things from there, finishing off the first complete game shutout in Nationals history.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 3

At St. Louis, Miguel Cabrera had four hits and A.J. Burnett (9-6) pitched into the eighth inning to win his fourth straight start.

Jeff Conine, Cabrera and Paul Lo Duca - the Marlins' 3-4-5 hitters - went 9-for-11 against Jeff Suppan with three RBIs. Suppan (10-8) held the rest of the lineup to 1-for-19.

Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first, doubled and singled twice off Suppan. Lo Duca had three singles and an RBI, and Conine singled twice and scored twice.

Diamondbacks 7, Astros 3

At Phoenix, Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer and Shawn Green and Tony Clark also connected as Arizona avoided getting swept by Houston for the first time.

The loss was just the second in 11 games and third in 18 for the Astros, but it allowed Washington to move within one game in the wild-card race.

Phillies 6, Cubs 4

At Philadelphia, Bobby Abreu's grand slam snapped a 25-game homerless skid, and Todd Pratt and Chase Utley added solo shots.

Abreu was hitting just .217 since winning the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break in Detroit. His first inning grand slam off Mark Prior (7-4) was his 19th homer off the year and first since another grand slam against Pittsburgh on July 4.

Padres 12, Pirates 7

At Pittsburgh, Brian Lawrence beat his brother-in-law Mark Redman, and San Diego remained in first place.

Lawrence (6-11) ended his six-game losing streak and give the Padres only their third victory in 16 games. Khalil Greene and Miguel Olivo each homered for the second consecutive game, giving the Padres five homers in two games after they went nine games and 320 at-bats without one.

Brewers 12, Mets 9

At New York, Geoff Jenkins went 5-for-5 and drove in the tying run, keying a five-run rally in the ninth inning.

Milwaukee roughed up six New York pitchers for 21 hits during a game that lasted 4 hours, 9 minutes in stifling humidity. Mike Piazza homered and drove in five runs for the Mets. Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron also connected, but Roberto Hernandez (5-5) gave up five runs and six hits in the ninth.

Giants 6, Rockies 4

At San Francisco, Lance Niekro broke out of a slump with a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth inning, and San Francisco snapped a four-game losing streak.

The Giants rallied for five runs on seven straight hits in the eighth to keep Colorado from its first three-game sweep in San Francisco.