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NL ROUNDUP

Lowe puts Dodgers on a high

Derek Lowe pitched a three-hitter and drove in two runs, Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley hit consecutive homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the visiting San Diego Padres, 4-0, last night.

The Dodgers have won seven of their first nine games. It's their best start since 1983, when they opened 7-2 and won the division title. They haven't started a season better since 1981, when they were 8-1 and went on to win the World Series.

Pitching for the first time since his trip to Boston to pick up his World Series ring, Lowe (1-1) recorded his second shutout and third complete game in 123 career starts.

With his pricey piece of jewelry resting on the top shelf of his locker, the righthander struck out five and walked one in a game that took just 2 hours 8 minutes.

Lowe showed no effects of Craig Counsell's line drive that hit him just above his pitching elbow and forced him out of Sunday's outing at Arizona in the fifth inning.

Lowe withstood a hard ground single by Xavier Nady that ricocheted off his right leg for a hit in the fifth. The Padres' other two hits were singles by Sean Burroughs and Woody Williams (1-1).

Mets 4, Marlins 0 -- Aaron Heilman threw a one-hitter at Shea Stadium for his first complete game, and Mike Piazza broke out of a slump with three RBIs to lead New York to their fifth straight victory.

Piazza doubled twice off Josh Beckett, who did not allow a run in his first two starts this season.

But Heilman (1-1) outpitched the 2003 World Series MVP, giving up just an infield single to Luis Castillo in the fourth to help the Mets even their record after an 0-5 start.

The righthander struck out seven and walked three, by far the best performance of his brief career.

Astros 11, Reds 2 -- Jason Lane homered twice, driving in a career-high five runs for visiting Houston, and Roy Oswalt improved to 13-0 against the Reds as the Astros got their biggest offensive splurge of the season.

The Astros won their 12th straight game against Cincinnati, a streak that began last July 31 and has been helped mightily by Oswalt (2-1), who regularly bedazzles the Reds' free-swinging lineup.

Oswalt gave up five hits in seven innings, joining Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in the majors to go 13-0 against an opponent. Martinez has won all his decisions against Seattle.

Giants 13, Rockies 6 -- Pedro Feliz hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high five runs as San Francisco beat host Colorado.

Marquis Grissom hit a two-run homer and had three hits, J.T. Snow was 3 for 5 and drove in two runs, and San Francisco had 17 hits for its first road victory after opening with consecutive losses in Los Angeles.

Every starter had a hit and scored a run for the Giants.

Pirates 8, Cubs 5 -- Host Pittsburgh roughed up Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano for five runs after barely scoring against him last season, then used Bobby Hill's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth to rally past Chicago.

Braves 11, Phillies 4 -- Raul Mondesi and Rafael Furcal each hit two home runs, Adam LaRoche added a two-run shot, and Atlanta beat host Philadelphia.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0 -- Jeff Suppan took a five-hitter into the ninth inning, Albert Pujols homered, and the visiting Cardinals beat All-Star Ben Sheets (1-2). Suppan (1-1) struck out three and walked two in 8 1/3 innings.

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