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Archive for Friday, August 5, 2005

Abreu, at last, gets his groove back

Phillies slugger hits grand slam, breaking a 25-game homerless slump

August 5, 2005

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— One of Philadelphia's most baffling second-half problems has been solved: Bobby Abreu really can hit home runs in games, not just meaningless exhibitions.

Abreu's grand slam snapped a 25-game homerless skid, and Todd Pratt and Chase Utley added solo shots, leading the Phillies to a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

"I really was relieved," said Abreu, who went 2-for-4.

Abreu was mired in a monthlong slump, hitting just .217 since winning the Home Run Derby with a record-setting performance during the All-Star break in Detroit. Abreu and manager Charlie Manuel consistently denied the 41-homer exhibition display affected the slugger's swing. But the waist-up cardboard cutout of a smiling Abreu holding the derby trophy over his head that was in his locker this week was going deep as often as the real person.

"It's not because of the Home Run Derby," Abreu reiterated. "I've been pulling the ball too much. I've been too aggressive at the plate."

Abreu's first-inning grand slam off Mark Prior (7-4) was his 19th homer of the year and first since another grand slam against Pittsburgh on July 4.

The slam helped the Phillies win the final two games of the three-game series and remain in the NL wild-card chase.

Brett Myers (10-5) won his third straight start and fourth consecutive decision, getting through 61â3 decent innings on a steamy, sticky afternoon. He reached double digits in victories for the third season in a row and is just one win shy of last year's total.

Billy Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save.

Prior ran into trouble in a hurry in the first, allowing two hits and a walk to open the game. Then Abreu - whose average dipped from .307 on July 14 to .291 entering Thursday - hit a drive that just cleared the 398-foot sign on the bullpen fence.

Giants 6, Rockies 4

San Francisco - Lance Niekro broke out of a slump with a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth inning, and San Francisco snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Colorado.

The Giants showed some late-inning energy not exhibited from this downtrodden club in recent days, rallying for five runs on seven straight hits in the eighth to keep Colorado from its first three-game sweep in San Francisco.

Padres 12, Pirates 7

Pittsburgh - Brian Lawrence beat Mark Redman and kept San Diego in first place.

Khalil Greene and Miguel Olivo each homered for the second consecutive game, giving the Padres five homers in two games after they went nine games and 320 at-bats without homering.

Brewers 12, Mets 9

New York - Geoff Jenkins went 5-for-5 and drove in the tying run, keying a five-run rally in the ninth inning that carried Milwaukee past New York.

Mike Piazza homered and drove in five runs for the Mets.

Nationals 7, Dodgers 0

Washington - John Patterson struck out a career-high 13 in his first shutout, and Brad Wilkerson hit a grand slam to lead Washington past Los Angeles for the Nationals' first series victory in a month.

Patterson allowed four hits and no walks

Braves 7, Reds 4

Cincinnati - Andruw Jones hit his 33rd home run to take over the National League lead, and Jeff Francoeur also homered as Atlanta overcame Sean Casey's two home runs and four RBIs.

Francoeur and Rafael Furcal each drove in two runs to help rookie Kyle Davies improve to 4-1 in his last seven starts.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 3

St. Louis - Miguel Cabrera had four hits, and A.J. Burnett pitched into the eighth inning, helping Florida beat St. Louis to split a four-game series.

Jeff Conine, Cabrera and Paul Lo Duca - the Marlins' 3-4-5 hitters - went 9-for-11 against Jeff Suppan with three RBIs. Suppan held the rest of the lineup to 1-for-19, the hit an RBI single by Alex Gonzalez.

D'backs 7, Astros 3

Phoenix - Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer, and Shawn Green and Tony Clark also connected, powering Arizona over Houston.

Craig Counsell drove in a run, and Glaus also doubled for Arizona, which avoided getting swept by Houston in a series for the first time.

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