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NL ROUNDUP

Cubs feel pain as the Giants gain

The Cubs suffered a stunning loss yesterday, and their closest rival in the wild-card race took advantage of the situation, the Giants beating Los Angeles to close within a half-game of Chicago and 1 1/2 games of the West-leading Dodgers.

Victor Diaz hit a tying, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, and Craig Brazell's first major league home run in the 11th gave the Mets a 4-3 victory over the Cubs in New York.

Brazell, who entered in the 11th as part of a double switch, led off the bottom half and lined a 1-2 pitch from Kent Mercker (3-1) over the right-field wall, ending Chicago's five-game win streak.

The rookie pumped his fist as he rounded first and was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, a rare moment of celebration for the Mets, who are 24-44 since the All-Star break.

Chicago appeared to be cruising to its 14th victory in 17 games behind 7 2/3 strong innings from Mark Prior and a two-run homer by Todd Walker. But Diaz hit his second career homer off closer LaTroy Hawkins to tie it, 3-3.

After getting an out to start the inning, Ryan Dempster walked Eric Valent and Jason Phillips before giving way to Hawkins, who retired Jeff Keppinger before Diaz lined a 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall.

Giants 9, Dodgers 5 -- Pedro Feliz hit a tiebreaking grand slam with two outs in the eighth, and host San Francisco helped its playoff chances with a victory over Los Angeles.

Feliz sent an 0-1 pitch from Yhency Brazoban (3-1) over the left-field wall for his second career grand slam and 21st homer of the year. He also hit a grand slam June 11, 2003, at Chicago.

Scott Eyre (2-2) pitched the eighth for the win and Ray Durham homered and hit an RBI double for San Francisco, which lost the opener of this crucial three-game series, 3-2, Friday night.

Durham hit his 15th homer leading off the bottom of the first, his eighth leadoff homer this season and 33d of his career.

Brewers 8, Astros 0 -- Wes Obermueller pitched a six-hitter for his first career shutout as host Milwaukee damaged the playoff chances of Houston, which remained 2 1/2 games behind Chicago in the wild-card race. Obermueller struck out three, walked one, and retired the final 13 batters he faced.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 5 -- Ryan Klesko hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh and finished with four RBIs as host San Diego pulled within 3 1/2 games of Chicago in the wild-card race and within 4 1/2 of Los Angeles in the West.

Braves 1, Marlins 0 -- Mike Hampton pitched seven scoreless innings on an ailing knee, and a homer by light-hitting Dewayne Wise provided the only run as Atlanta dropped Florida eight games behind the Cubs in the wild-card race with eight remaining.

Elsewhere -- John Mabry hit a three-run homer, helping the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Colorado Rockies, 10-6, in Denver . . . Paul Wilson won for the first time since July 8 and the Cincinnati Reds used a five-run first inning to beat the Pirates, 7-4, in Pittsburgh . . . Mike Lieberthal hit a go-ahead single in the 10th, leading the Philadelphia Phillies past the Expos, 4-3, in Montreal.

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