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Cardinals stymied by Smoltz

John Smoltz scattered nine hits for his second straight win, and the Braves made the most of their four hits off Jeff Suppan for a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday in Atlanta.

Smoltz (2-3) returned to the starting rotation this year after three seasons plus as one of baseball's most feared closers. He lost his first three decisions, mainly because of a lack of run support, and he didn't have much room for error against the Cardinals.

But the Braves broke a scoreless duel in the sixth with two runs, and Chris Reitsma helped Smoltz escape his final jam in the seventh.

Dan Kolb worked the ninth for his seventh save in eight tries.

In addition to the nine hits, Smoltz also walked a season-high four in 6 2/3 innings. Suppan (2-3) pitched seven strong innings, but the St. Louis offense was shut down.

Astros 9, Cubs 3 -- Mike Lamb hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs, and host Houston roughed up Chicago starter Mark Prior. After Lamb connected, Adam Everett hit a three-run shot in a seven-run fifth off Prior (3-1) as the Astros closed the series against their Central rivals with consecutive wins.

Dodgers 2, Rockies 1 -- Derek Lowe pitched six strong innings and Jeff Kent drove in both runs as Los Angeles completed a three-game sweep of visiting Colorado. Lowe (2-2) allowed a run, five hits, and no walks in six innings, helping send Colorado to its fifth straight loss. Yhency Brazoban got three outs for his eighth save in nine attempts while filling for injured closer Eric Gagne.

Phillies 8, Marlins 6 -- Bobby Abreu hit a three-run homer, and host Philadelphia jumped on Josh Beckett for five runs in the first inning en route to topping Florida.Billy Wagner got five outs for his sixth save in as many chances. The lefthander relieved Tim Worrell in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and one out, and got Mike Lowell to bounce into a double play.

Giants 8, Pirates 3 -- Moises Alou and Lance Niekro hit two-run homers and San Francisco used rookie Brad Hennessey's solid start to finish off a three-game sweep in Pittsburgh. With Hennessey (1-0) allowing three runs and five hits over seven innings in his first start this season, the Giants won their fifth in a row.

Mets 6, Nationals 3 -- Carlos Beltran went 3 for 5 with two doubles, including one off Luis Ayala (1-1) that drove in two runs in the ninth, to help visiting New York end a four-game losing streak.

Brewers 13, Reds 3 -- Lyle Overbay had a career-high five hits, including a three-run homer, and Doug Davis (3-3) pitched a five-hitter to lead host Milwaukee to its fourth straight win. Diamondbacks 5, Padres 2 -- Javier Vazquez (3-2) pitched a six-hitter for his first complete game in two seasons, leading visiting Arizona.

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