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NL: Giants (9-1) equal best start

©Associated Press
April 11, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie Kurt Ainsworth pitched shutout ball into the ninth inning as the Giants matched the best start in franchise history with their ninth win in 10 games, 2-1 over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

Manager Felipe Alou got his 700th career victory, and Marquis Grissom hurt his former team with his first homer for San Francisco. The Giants are 9-1 for the first time since moving West, matching the New York Giants' 9-1 start in 1938.

In his sixth major-league start, Ainsworth gave another tantalizing glimpse of the potential that convinced the Giants they could trade Livan Hernandez last month.

Ainsworth gave up six hits, and he retired 12 straight in the middle innings, striking out the side in the third to begin the sequence. He finished with a career-high five strikeouts while retiring 17 of 18 into the eighth.

He got a big cheer when he emerged to start the ninth and another when he left after allowing Paul Lo Duca's leadoff double. Scott Eyre retired Shawn Green on a harmless fly, and Tim Worrell got two outs for his fourth save in five chances while filling in for injured closer Robb Nen.

Lo Duca scored on Worrell's two-out wild pitch before the right-hander struck out Fred McGriff to end it.

Jose Cruz extended his hitting streak to 10 games and Rich Aurilia improved his to nine as the Giants handed Hideo Nomo his first career loss in San Francisco in the opener of a four-game series against their biggest rivals.

ROCKIES 7, CARDINALS 6: Todd Helton homered and Jose Hernandez added a two-run shot in the eighth inning as host Colorado overcame deficits of 2-0 and 6-4 to win for the sixth time in seven games.

After a particularly ugly performance in the top of the eighth, when three Colorado errors contributed to four St. Louis runs, the Rockies refused to quit.

With one out in the Rockies half, Helton homered off Lance Painter.

Painter was hurt while throwing a pitch to Preston Wilson. Steve Kline came in and threw Ball 4 to Wilson, and Hernandez then hit a 428-foot homer to right-center.

"His first four pitches were outside," Hernandez said. "He got behind in the count, 3-1, and I was thinking, I'm going to swing anyhow. He threw me a fastball out over the plate, and I put a good swing on it. I hit it good."

BRAVES 6, PHILLIES 2: Andruw Jones and Robert Fick homered as visiting Atlanta bounced back from a 16-2 loss.

The Braves got a well-balanced effort, with six players driving in runs and six pitchers holding Philadelphia to four hits.

Trey Hodges, making his first career start, was pulled after 42/3 innings and was unable to get a decision. He gave up one run, two hits and two walks as a fill-in starter.

EXPOS 7, CUBS 1: Tony Armas struck out a career-high 11 in seven scoreless innings as visiting Montreal avoided a three-game sweep.

Armas followed Javier Vazquez's 14-strikeout performance in a 3-0 loss Wednesday. Montreal had 29 strikeouts in all the past two games, a franchise record.

"It's good to see it, but that's what I expected," Robinson said. "I expected our pitching staff to be much improved over last season. Hopefully, we can continue it."

PIRATES 3, BREWERS 1: Randall Simon hit a three-run homer in the first inning to support Jeff Suppan's second strong start for Pittsburgh.

The Pirates avoided a three-game sweep and won for the first time at home after starting 5-1 on the road. The Brewers lost their seventh in nine games, even though starter Ben Sheets didn't allow any runs after the first.

MARLINS 4, METS 3: Juan Pierre drove in two with a two-out single off Armando Benitez in the ninth, and host Florida scored four in the final two innings.

The Marlins comeback spoiled a strong showing by Tom Glavine, who pitched six shutout innings. New York's Cliff Floyd homered against his former team, and rookie teammate Ty Wigginton also homered.

ASTROS 4, REDS 2: Jeriome Robertson pitched seven strong innings for his first career victory for host Houston.

Robertson allowed two hits while striking out eight and walking three. He retired the last 11 batters he faced. Octavio Dotel struck out the side in order in the eighth and Billy Wagner finished for his third save.

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