|Things are looking up for the Mets' Paul Lo Duca, who celebrates the first of his two three-run homers. (AL BEHRMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Surging Mets turn on power
Lo Duca hits pair of HRs, drives in 7 runs
Paul Lo Duca hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high seven runs last night, powering the New York Mets to their fifth straight victory, 11-7, over the host Cincinnati Reds.
The National League East leaders have regained control of their division with their longest winning streak of the season. A balanced offense has led the way, piling up 46 runs in the last six games and reaching double-digits three times.
Lo Duca got it started with his three-run homer in the second inning off Matt Belisle.
Then, after falling behind, 5-3, the Mets sent nine batters to the plate for five runs in the sixth inning, a rally started by Carlos Beltran's two-run homer. Shawn Green added a two-run double off reliever Bill Bray (3-2) during the comeback, and Lo Duca finished it with an RBI single.
"It's amazing," said Lo Duca. "Unbelievable. I'm really proud of this team, especially with what happened in Philadelphia."
The Mets got swept four games in Philadelphia last week, cutting their lead over the Phillies to two games. The lead is now five.
Lo Duca, who hadn't homered since June 30, hit another three-run shot in the eighth off Todd Coffey to complete his career night. His previous best was six RBIs June 26, 2001, at San Francisco.
Carlos Delgado, Green, and Lo Duca each had three hits apiece, helping lefthander Oliver Perez (13-9) get the victory.
Perez lasted five innings, walked five, and gave up five runs.
Dodgers 6, Cubs 2 - Brad Penny earned his 15th victory, Matt Kemp had four hits, and visiting Los Angeles spoiled Steve Trachsel's return to Chicago.
The Cubs' lead in the NL Central was reduced to a half-game over Milwaukee and a game over St. Louis, both of whom won. The Dodgers, who won for the seventh time in nine games, are in third place in the NL West, three games back.
Penny (15-4) got his first win since Aug. 15. He allowed seven hits and two runs - one earned - in seven innings.
Phillies 5, Braves 2 - Ryan Howard hit his 37th homer, and Kyle Lohse quieted Atlanta's offense to help host Philadelphia end a three-game losing streak.
Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, made it 2-0 in the first with his 15th career homer off the Braves and sixth at Turner Field.
Chipper Jones hit his 23d homer for Atlanta. Brewers 5, Astros 3 - Rookie Ryan Braun homered to lead host Milwaukee.
Carlos Villanueva (7-3) pitched six solid innings in his first start as a member of the Brewers' rotation. His outing ruined the comeback of Houston's Brandon Backe (0-1), making his first start in more than a year after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.
Padres 9, Diamondbacks 1 - Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes homered as host Arizona defeated San Diego to pull within .001 of the NL West-leading Padres.
Doug Davis (13-11) allowed one run in seven innings to set a career high in wins.
Indians 7, Twins 5 - Travis Hafner hit two home runs and the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 11th inning, leading Cleveland at Minnesota.
Rafael Betancourt (4-0) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win. Rockies 6, Giants 5 - Brad Hawpe singled in the game-winning run with one out in the ninth to lift host Colorado to its third straight win.
Cardinals 6, Pirates 2 - Chris Duncan hit a three-run double to back Joel Piñeiro (4-2) as host St. Louis beat Pittsburgh to move back over .500.
Angels 4, Athletics 3 - Garret Anderson and Howie Kendrick hit two-run homers and host Los Angeles beat Oakland to extend its lead in the AL West to 7 1/2 games over Seattle.
White Sox 3, Tigers 1 - Josh Fields and Alex Cintron homered, and Jon Garland (9-10) scattered seven hits over seven innings as Chicago beat host Detroit.
Rangers 9, Royals 8 - Ian Kinsler raced home with the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the seventh inning, and host Texas edged Kansas City.
Orioles 8, Devil Rays 4 - Melvin Mora drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Ramon Hernandez followed with a three-run double as Baltimore won at Tampa Bay.
Nationals 4, Marlins 3 - Jesus Flores's two-run, ninth-inning double lifted host Washington.