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NL: Giants keep hold on wild card

©Associated Press

September 22, 2002

MILWAUKEE -- It's beginning to look as if Giants' stretch run will wind up a success.

MILWAUKEE -- It's beginning to look as if Giants' stretch run will wind up a success.

Kenny Lofton and Rich Aurilia hit consecutive seventh-inning homers and San Francisco kept up its strong play Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Giants maintained a two-game lead over the Dodgers for the wild card and trail West-leading Arizona by 51/2 with seven to play. They have won 11 of their past 16 games and 23 of 33.

Jason Schmidt allowed three hits in seven innings, struck out eight and walked three. Tim Worrell pitched a hitless eighth, and Robb Nen finished with a perfect ninth for his 40th save in 48 chances.

"Robbie looked exceptionally sharp and Tim Worrell continues to excel," San Francisco manager Dusty Baker said. "It's not easy coming into a 3-1 ballgame in this park, especially the way the ball's flying out."

Worrell, tied for the league lead in relief victories with eight, walked pinch-hitter Lenny Harris leading off the eighth, then retired Eric Young on a flyout and struck out Keith Ginter and Jeffrey Hammonds.

Nen fanned Richie Sexson and Matt Stairs, then retired Jim Rushford on a weak bouncer.

"They've been outstanding," Schmidt said. "It's a big reason for our success. Especially when we come out of a game early, they come out and slam the door nine times out of 10."

A night after setting a franchise record for losses, the Brewers became the third 100-game loser in the major leagues this season, joining Tampa Bay and Detroit.

PHILS TAKE 2 LONG ONES: The final series at Cinergy Field is going extra long and turning into a letdown for Cincinnati.

Barry Larkin's two errors in the 10th helped Philadelphia win the opener of a day-night doubleheader, and Tomas Perez's 11th-inning homer finished the Phillies' sweep with a 5-4 victory.

Only 13,821 showed up for the afternoon game, which ended with loud boos for the Reds shortstop and team captain. Larkin fumbled two grounders to help load the bases, and Jimmy Rollins doubled for a 5-3 win.

Cincinnati's Ruben Mateo tied the nightcap at 4 with his second homer in the eighth. Bobby Abreu tied the opener at 3 with a homer in the ninth.

ROCKIES 15, D'BACKS 8: Still comfortably ahead in the West, Arizona players insisted no one was panicking despite a second straight loss to Colorado.

"There's nobody worried in here," first baseman Mark Grace said. "We just need to go out and play better baseball.

"We're fine. Our magic number is three. We need to go win three games, and we've got the ability to do it, no question. I'd like to do it the next three games."

The Diamondbacks wasted a chance to clinch a playoff berth for the second day in a row by blowing a five-run lead. The Rockies, who trailed 6-1 and 8-4, tied the score with four runs in the fifth, then went ahead with a seven-run seventh that included Juan Pierre's tiebreaking single, his fifth hit of the game.

ASTROS 6, CARDINALS 3: Now that St. Louis has clinched the Central, it has to figure out how to get Matt Morris ready for the playoffs.

Morris, struggling since he came off the disabled list, allowed all visiting Houston's runs on nine hits.

"I'm just not concentrating. I'm not real sharp right now," Morris said. "It's all in there, but I'm just not making pitches."

MARLINS 6, BRAVES 4: Eric Owens hit a tiebreaking triple during a five-run, sixth-inning rally and Brad Penny beat Atlanta for the third time this season, leading visiting Florida.

METS 6, EXPOS 3 (11): Esix Snead hit a three-run homer in the 11th as host New York snapped Montreal's seven-game win streak. The Mets tied it in the ninth on first baseman Andres Galarraga's two-out throwing error.

CUBS 4, PIRATES 2: Sammy Sosa barely missed his 499th homer with a go-ahead, two-run single off the rightfield wall, and visiting Chicago rallied with three in the seventh.

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