Wednesday's National League Capsules

May 24, 2007 - 5:38 AM By PA SportsTicker

NY METS 3, ATLANTA 0 --------------------

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Too bad Oliver Perez could not start every time the New York Mets faced the Atlanta Braves.

Perez hurled seven innings of shutout ball to record his third victory against the Braves this season and power New York to a 3-0 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday.

The Braves and Mets have faced each other eight times this season, with Atlanta winning five. If not for Perez, New York's fate may have been much worse.

The 25-year-old lefthander had dominated the Braves this season, striking out 15 and allowing just three runs in 13 2/3 innings in his first two starts against them.

Once again, Perez (6-3) came up huge against the Mets' perennial nemesis to extend their lead over Atlanta in the National League East Division to 2 1/2 games.

The Mexican southpaw scattered four hits in seven scoreless frames, struck out five and walked two to win his third straight decision and improve to 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA in five starts against Atlanta since joining the Mets last season.

David Wright homered in the fifth for the Mets, who avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Perez threw a season-high 122 pitches - 81 strikes - to dispatch of a righthanded-laden Atlanta lineup that was resting lefthanded regulars Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson and Scott Thorman.

Atlanta's best threat against Perez came in the bottom of the third. Atlanta starter Chuck James (4-4) led off the frame by singling to left to collect his first hit in 13 at-bats this season and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Right fielder Shawn Green made a nice diving catch on a foul out by Martin Prado to record the first out of the frame, but James tagged and advanced to third.

Perez walked Edgar Renteria before inducing Chipper Jones to line out to first, and loaded the bases after hitting Jeff Francoeur with a pitch. But the lefthander induced Matt Diaz to fly out to right to end the threat.

Rookie Joe Smith pitched a scoreless eighth and Billy Wagner pitched around a two-out base hit to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the ninth to complete the shutout and pick up his 11th save.

New York took a 1-0 lead thanks to an unearned run in the third.

James issued a one-out free pass to Jose Reyes, who advanced to second on Green's single and scored on Prado's fielding error, when the rookie failed to catch a throw by catcher Saltalamacchia on a double steal.

New York loaded the bases in with no outs in the fourth with successive singles by Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley, but only could plate one run on a sacrifice fly by Chris Gomez.

James allowed three runs - two earned - and seven hits, walked three and struck out two in 4 2/3 innings. The 25-year old southpaw has pitched into the seventh inning in just one of his 10 starts this season.

WASHINGTON 12, CINCINNATI 7 --------------------------- CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Ryan Church hit two homers and added a career-high six RBI as the Washington Nationals posted a 12-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Felipe Lopez, who hit a grand slam and plated six runs in Tuesday's contest, opened the game with a single and set the table for Church, who wasted little time putting Washington out in front, belting a two-run homer over the fence in right off Cincinnati starter Kyle Lohse (1-6).

Church struck again in the seventh off reliever Todd Coffey - a solo shot - to stake the Nationals to 9-1 lead. After the Reds had pulled to within 9-5 in their half of the seventh, Church cleared the bases with a three-run double to extend the Washington bulge to 12-5 in the eighth.

ST. LOUIS 5, PITTSBURGH 3 ------------------------- ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Kip Wells snapped a career-high seven-game losing streak and David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds homered in the opening two frames as the St. Louis Cardinals posted a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

Chris Duncan homered for the third straight game for St. Louis, which has hit four home runs in the last two home contests after going homerless at Busch Stadium since April 28 - a stretch of seven games.

Wells (2-8) leads the league with eight losses and 43 runs allowed, but pitched more like the pitcher who yielded just five earned runs over 20 innings in his first three starts. The righthander allowed just five hits and a walk and was charged with two runs - one earned.

COLORADO 2, ARIZONA 0 --------------------- PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Jeff Francis likely doesn't mind having the Arizona Diamondbacks as a rival in the National League West Division.

The lefthander pitched seven scoreless innings and Ryan Spilborghs provided the offense as the Colorado Rockies shut out Arizona, 2-0, on Wednesday.

Francis (3-4), who departed after throwing 119 pitches, allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four. With the win, he improved to 7-1 in 13 career starts against the Diamondbacks.

Manny Corpus pitched a perfect eighth and Brian Fuentes worked out of trouble in the ninth to complete the combined shutout, earning his 13th save in the process.

Francis, 26, has been excellent over his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA and pitching at least seven innings in each game.

Spilborghs had two hits and drove in both runs for the Rockies, who have split 12 meetings with the Diamondbacks this season.

SAN FRANCISCO 9, HOUSTON 1 -------------------------- SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Barry Zito pitched seven strong innings and Bengie Molina drove in four runs as the San Francisco Giants won their fourth straight game with a 9-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

A former Cy Young Award winner, Zito had struggled in his last two starts, surrendering 13 runs and 12 hits in his previous 10 innings in back-to-back losses.

The lefthander was more in control this time around, yielding one run and four hits in helping the Giants capture their third series sweep of this campaign. He struck out two and walked two.

SAN DIEGO 2, CHICAGO CUBS 1 ---------------------------

SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a two-run homer and David Wells tossed seven effective innings as the San Diego Padres posted a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

With the Padres trailing, 1-0, in the seventh, Kouzmanoff crushed a 2-0 pitch from Cubs starter Sean Marshall to deep left field to give San Diego the lead.

The blast made a winner out of Wells (2-2) and continued Kouzmanoff's recent turnaround.

The homers were the second in as many nights for Kouzmanoff, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Cleveland. The rookie third baseman has a six-game hitting streak with 10 hits in 19 at-bats with a pair of homers and eight RBI.

LA DODGERS 5, MILWAUKEE 1 -------------------------

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Russ Martin had three RBI and Brad Penny pitched seven scoreless innings as the Dodgers won the rubber game of the three-game set, 5-1, over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Following singles from Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre against Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano (5-3) to open the bottom of the first, Jeff Kent was hit by a pitch. Martin, who had a hand in each of the runs scored in Tuesday's 3-2 Dodgers' victory, capitalized on the opportunity with a three-run double to right to stake Los Angeles to an early 3-0 advantage.

Luis Gonzalez followed Martin with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 4-0 for the Dodgers, who ran their record to 21-3 in contests in which they score first.

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