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NL ROUNDUP

Dodgers beat back Giants

Alex Cora's second homer in two days provided the spark Los Angeles needed yesterday.

The light-hitting second baseman homered and drove in two runs as the Dodgers moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Giants in the West with a 7-4 win in San Francisco.

Barry Bonds' 703d homer gave the Giants a third-inning lead. But Cora was just one of several heroes for the Dodgers, who manufactured more than enough runs to take two of three from the Giants, who remain a half-game behind Chicago in the wild-card race.

A day after sitting out in observance of Yom Kippur, Shawn Green drew a bases-loaded walk that put the Dodgers ahead in the fifth.

Jayson Werth hit an early two-run homer off Brett Tomko, who lost for the first time in 12 starts since July 29. Jeff Weaver (13-12) allowed nine hits over six innings for his first win in six starts, and Eric Gagne got six outs to earn his 45th save in 47 chances.

Mets 3, Cubs 2 -- Al Leiter pitched two-hit ball for six innings to earn his first win in six weeks as host New York prevented Chicago from increasing its lead in the wild-card race. The Mets capitalized on a streak of wildness by Cubs starter Kerry Wood (8-8) to score three runs in the first inning.

Leadoff batter Jose Reyes walked, stole second and scored on a single by Kaz Matsui. After a double play, rookies Craig Brazell and Victor Diaz, the heroes of the Mets' victory Saturday, both singled. Then Eric Valent and Jason Phillips were hit by pitches, forcing in one run. A bases-loaded walk to Gerald Williams brought in another.

Astros 11, Brewers 7 -- Raul Chavez drove in a career-high five runs, helping Houston outslug Milwaukee at Miller Park and move within 1 1/2 games of Chicago in the wild-card race.Tim Redding (5-7), the third of eight Astros pitchers, was credited with the win after throwing a 1-2-3 fourth inning. It was the fourth time in club history that the Astros used eight pitchers in a nine-inning game.

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 1 -- Jake Peavy pitched six strong innings and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 2.25 as host San Diego pulled within 2 1/2 games in the wild-card race.

Braves 6, Marlins 3 -- John Thomson held Florida to one run in seven innings as host Atlanta eliminated the defending World Series champion from postseason contention.

Elsewhere -- Albert Pujols hit his 46th homer and Jason Marquis pitched seven strong innings, helping the St. Louis Cardinals win their fourth straight with a 9-3 victory over the Rockies in Colorado . . . Bobby Abreu hit a two-run double to back a solid outing by Cory Lidle as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Expos, 2-1, in Montreal . . . Slumping Tike Redman hit a pair of run-scoring singles, and the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2, in Pittsburgh to stop a five-game losing streak.

NL notables

* St. Louis's Larry Walker had his first hit against his former team, the Rockies, a single off Adam Bernero.
* Colorado's Todd Helton hit his 155th career homer at Coors Field, passing Walker for most all time.
* St. Louis's Jason Marquis won his 15th game, giving the Cardinals four 15-game winners for the first time since 1944, when Mort Cooper (22), Ted Wilks (17), Max Lanier (17) and Harry Brecheen (16) turned the trick.
* Reliever Mike Stanton appeared in his 80th game, tying a Mets record set by Turk Wendell in 1999.
* A promotion helped draw a crowd of 12,382 as the first 10,000 fans to arrive at Montreal's Olympic Stadium were given an Expos winter knit cap.

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