Milwaukee With a .238 batting average, Matt Stairs knows there's room for improvement. But he was a happy man after his contributions Wednesday night.
Stairs hit his first home run since last September and three relievers combined for four perfect innings as the Chicago Cubs beat Milwaukee 6-3.
"I'm not saying because I hit a home run I'm back, but I feel a lot more at ease coming to the plate," said Stairs after driving in two runs with his 405-foot homer and singling to spark another two-run rally. "I worked my butt off the last couple of days and it's paid off."
Sammy Sosa hit his 11th homer of the season. The solo shot in the first inning was his 397th career home run, moving him ahead of Joe Carter for 35th place on the all-time list.
Stairs, acquired from Oakland in a trade last November, hit his homer in the fourth off Jamey Wright (3-4).
Kevin Tapani (5-1) allowed six hits in five innings before being taken out for a pinch-hitter after the Brewers closed within 4-3 on a two-run homer by Tyler Houston.
Cubs reliever Courtney Duncan retired six straight batters, Kyle Farnsworth worked the eighth and Tom Gordon closed in the ninth for his second save.
Rondell White led off the second with a double and scored with two outs on a single by Tapani for a 2-0 lead. Tapani's third hit in eight at-bats came after Augie Ojeda, batting .136 at the time, was intentionally walked.
"I knew we were in trouble when the pitcher got a hit," Milwaukee manager Davey Lopes said.
Rockies 6, Mets 0
Denver Mike Hampton tormented his former team, pitching his eighth career shutout to lead Colorado over New York. Hampton (5-0), the MVP of the NLCS last October for the Mets, became a free agent after the season and signed a $121 million, eight-year contract with Colorado. The left-hander who went 15-10 in helping lead the Mets to the World Series last year held them to seven hits. He struck out five, walked three and was backed by four double plays. Hampton helped his cause with a pair of hits, including an RBI infield single in the second. He also hit a two-out single ahead of Todd Walker's three-run homer off Rick Reed (4-2) in the seventh. Larry Walker had a solo home run in the sixth inning.
Cardinals 6, Pirates 2
St. Louis Dustin Hermanson (3-1) threw six strong innings and St. Louis handled Pittsburgh hitters for the third straight game. The Cardinals have outscored the Pirates 21-4 in the first three games of a four-game series. They'll go for the sweep today with troubled left-hander Rick Ankiel pitching. Ray Lankford homered and drove in three runs for the Cardinals.
Astros 7, Phillies 6
Houston Ricky Bottalico's wild throw allowed Glenn Barker to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Houston defeated Philadelphia. With the score tied 6-6, Moises Alou and Lance Berkman both walked off Bottalico (1-2) with no outs in the ninth. Chris Truby attempted to bunt the runners over, and Bottalico fielded the ball and threw to third in a bid to erase Barker, who was pinch-running for Alou. The throw was wild, and third baseman Scott Rolen was unable to stop it as Barker scored.
Diamondbacks 5, Reds 2
Phoenix David Dellucci hit a three-run homer in the eighth, lifting Arizona over Cincinnati. It was Dellucci's second pinch-hit homer and Arizona's seventh pinch-hit homer of the season. Mark Grace homered and doubled for Arizona.
Dodgers 3, Marlins 2
Los Angeles Chan Ho Park allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings and Mark Grudzielanek homered for the second straight game as Los Dodgers beat Florida. Park (4-3) gave up a leadoff single to Luis Castillo in the first inning and did not allow another hit until Eric Owens' leadoff double in the sixth. Park struck out eight and walked two.
Braves 3, Padres 0
San Diego Former Padre Quilvio Veras homered and John Burkett (2-4) pitched seven shutout innings as Atlanta won snapped San Diego's season-high five-game winning streak. Tony Gwynn left the game with cramping in his right hamstring, one day after coming off the disabled list. Gwynn, who turned 41 on Wednesday, went 0-for-2 before being replaced by pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell in the fifth inning. John Rocker earned his 11th save.
Expos 8, Giants 0
San Francisco Lee Stevens and Vladimir Guerrero homered on consecutive pitches in the third inning, and Montreal snapped a six-game losing streak. Javier Vazquez (3-4) allowed five hits in seven innings. Vazquez struck out seven, including Barry Bonds three times.