By The Associated Press
HOUSTON -- Steve Trachsel earned his first win with the Cubs in eight years and Chicago hit four home runs to regain the NL Central lead by beating Houston 6-2 on Thursday night.
Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Daryle Ward and Cliff Floyd homered for Chicago, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Milwaukee in the division race.
Trachsel (1-2) gave up two solo homers and seven hits in five innings for his first win since the Cubs acquired him from Baltimore on Aug. 31. The 36-year-old right-hander pitched for the Cubs from 1993-99, and his last win with them came on Oct. 3, 1999.
Kerry Wood and two other relievers combined for four innings of one-hit ball.
Carlos Lee and Mark Loretta homered for the Astros, who have dropped 10 of 15 since Cecil Cooper replaced Phil Garner as manager on Aug. 27. Woody Williams (8-15) gave up four homers for the first time this season and lost his fourth straight start.
Soriano hit Williams' second pitch of the game for his 40th career leadoff homer. He has eight leadoff home runs this season, tying the Cubs record set by Rick Monday in 1976.
Ramirez added a three-run shot in the inning.
Phillies 12, Rockies 4
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley hit a two-run homer and Philadelphia's much-maligned bullpen allowed one run over the final eight innings.
Geoff Geary (2-2) pitched three scoreless innings after starter J.D. Durbin lasted just one-plus inning, then five other relievers allowed one run over the final five innings.
The Phillies, who were outscored 20-2 in consecutive losses, moved within two games of San Diego in the NL wild-card standings, pending the result of the Padres' game at Los Angeles later Thursday.
Rockies starter Jeff Francis (15-8) couldn't make it out of the fourth. Utley, the NL's leading hitter with a .338 average, ripped his 19th homer to give the Phillies a 6-3 lead.
Garrett Atkins hit a solo homer off Clay Condrey to cut it to 8-4 in the fifth, but the Phillies scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Francis allowed eight runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings. The left-hander came in with a 2.31 ERA in his previous five starts and had pitched 13 straight scoreless innings on the road.
Durbin exited after allowing consecutive singles to start the second. He gave up three runs, five hits and walked three.
Reds 5, Cardinals 4
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Joey Votto hit a two-run double and David Ross had a two-run homer as Cincinnati kept St. Louis winless on its seven-game road trip.
The Cardinals ended the trip with their first three-game sweep in Cincinnati since July 1998. It's their first winless trip of at least seven games since May 1972, when they went 0-7 in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
The defending World Series champions had closed within a game of first place in the NL Central before hitting the road. They are five games behind first-place Chicago and 4 1/2 behind Milwaukee in the division.
Votto doubled in the fifth off Kip Wells (6-17) -- his third hit of the game -- and Ross followed with his first homer since July 23.
Aaron Harang (15-4) gave up three hits and three sacrifice flies -- two by Albert Pujols -- in seven innings. David Weathers gave up an RBI single in the ninth before becoming the ninth Cincinnati closer to record 30 saves.