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Astro slugger Lee again the foil to best-laid Cardinal plan

Astro slugger Lee again the foil to best-laid Cardinal plan

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 4:24 pm
By: By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros know it’s a bit early to be too concerned about the standings.
That won’t stop them from enjoying that they’re inching closer to the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals after Tuesday night’s 11-6 win.
Carlos Lee’s grand slam was one of three homers that led the Astros to their second straight win over the Cardinals and left them two games back in the division.
“The whole team is feeling great,” Miguel Tejada said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody right now.”
The Astros led 5-1 before Lee’s shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the seventh inning.
It was his second grand slam of the season and his second straight day with a home run.
“I’m just having opportunities out there to come up with a good hit,” said Lee, who has seven RBI in the last two games. “I’ve been feeling good. I started feeling real good the whole (month of) July and been hitting the balls hard everywhere. I guess it’s all starting to fall.”
Geoff Blum followed Lee’s home run with his own to right field to push Houston’s lead to 10-1.
Hunter Pence added a two-run homer and Tejada drove in three runs.
“It’s a pretty good roll,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “We’re one of the hotter teams in baseball the last couple months, and I attribute most of that to our pitching.”
Wandy Rodriguez (10-6) allowed four hits and one run in seven innings for his 10th win of the season, his most since going 10-10 in 2005.
He has posted a 0.62 ERA in four July starts.
“When you see him have the fastball command, you know he has a chance to have a really good game,” Cooper said. “And when he can throw in the curveball, which I think is one of the better curveballs in the league, when he can get that over, he’s almost unhittable.”
Mark DeRosa had solo homers in the second and eighth innings and Ryan Ludwick added a three-run shot in the Cardinals five-run eighth.
Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer (7-8) allowed seven hits and five runs in 41/3 innings.
“This is going to be a good step,” Wellemeyer said. “This is definitely a step forward as far as how I felt. I didn’t get the results I wanted, but I felt good.”
Phillies 4, Cubs 1 (13)
At Philadelphia, Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 13th inning to send the Phillies to their 10th straight victory.
The NL East-leading Phillies are on their longest winning streak since a 13-game run from July 30 to Aug. 12, 1991.
Jimmy Rollins homered and Joe Blanton allowed one run in seven innings.
Four relievers threw six hitless innings with Clay Condrey (6-2) earning the win.
Braves 8, Giants 1
At Atlanta, Martin Prado had three hits and scored three runs, and Brian McCann hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs.
The Braves have averaged 7.2 runs in a 5-1 start to their eight-game homestand and are 9-3 in their last 12 games overall.
The Giants, who fell out of the NL wild-card lead with Monday night’s 11-3 loss to the Braves, have lost five of six.
Dodgers 12, Reds 3
At Los Angeles, Rafael Furcal hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs and Matt Kemp added a two-run shot as the Dodgers won their 11th straight at home over Cincinnati.
Manny Ramirez was hit on the side of his left hand by a pitch from Homer Bailey leading off the third inning.
He went to a hospital for precautionary X-rays, which were negative.
He is listed as day to day.
The NL West-leading Dodgers (60-34) won their fourth straight and are 26 games over .500 for the first time since 1991.
Marlins 3, Padres 2
At San Diego, Chris Volstad pitched seven strong innings to lead Florida.
The Padres had only five singles until rookie Kyle Blanks hit Leo Nunez’s first pitch of the ninth inning for his first major league homer.
Hanley Ramirez had three of Florida’s 12 hits.
Chad Gaudin (4-9) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.
Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 5
At Denver, Miguel Montero singled and scored the tying run in the seventh inning and then hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
Mark Reynolds began the decisive rally with a one-out single off reliever Juan Rincon (1-1). Montero followed with his eighth homer of the season that gave the Diamondbacks a 6-4 lead.
Juan Gutierrez (2-2) picked up the win with an inning of scoreless relief. Chad Qualls got four outs for his 18th save.
Brewers 2, Pirates 0
At Pittsburgh, Braden Looper allowed four hits over seven innings and Prince Fielder had two two-out RBI singles.
Last-place Pittsburgh, which snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Brewers on Monday, was shut out for the ninth time this season.
Looper (9-4) won his fourth consecutive decision and Trevor Hoffman earned his 22nd save.
Virgil Vasquez (1-4) lost his fourth consecutive start.
Nationals 4, Mets 0
At Washington, John Lannan (7-7) threw his first career shutout, scattering seven hits and getting 17 groundball outs.
New York has been shut out five times in its last 13 games.
Washington snapped a six-game losing streak and gave interim manager Jim Riggleman his first win in six games since replacing the fired Manny Acta at the All-Star break.

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