By The Associated Press
MIAMI -- Carlos Beltran hit a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning off Kevin Gregg, and the bullpen held on for the New York Mets in a 5-4 win over the Florida Marlins on Friday night.
Before Beltran's homer, the Mets were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Trailing 2-1, they left the bases loaded in the seventh and stranded two in the eighth.
Gregg (6-8) retired the first two batters in the ninth, and New York was down to its final strike when Luis Castillo singled on a 1-2 pitch. David Wright also singled, Carlos Delgado was hit by a pitch and Beltran pulled the first pitch over the right-field wall.
Luis Ayala earned his third save despite giving up four hits in the ninth, including an RBI single by pinch hitter Mike Jacobs and a run-scoring double by Jorge Cantu. Wes Helms grounded out with runners at second and third to end the game.
Joe Smith (2-3) pitched a scoreless eighth. Beltran's homer was his 20th, and he drove in all five New York runs.
The grand slam left the third-place Marlins reeling at the start of a big weekend series. They've been fading in the NL East and fell seven games behind the Mets, who increased their lead over second-place Philadelphia to two games.
Cubs 3, Phillies 2
CHICAGO (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, and Chicago beat Philadelphia for its seventh straight win.
Soriano's first homer in 15 days and 23rd of the season came off Clay Condrey (3-4). Chicago made the most of four hits and improved to a major league-best 85-50, including 51-19 at Wrigley Field.
Philadelphia had put runners at the corners with two outs in the top of the seventh before Ryan Howard's hard grounder went off Derrek Lee. The first baseman retrieved the ball and flipped to pitcher Jeff Samardzija for the out, but replays showed Howard beat the throw. Phillies third-base coach Steve Smith was ejected by plate umpire Bill Welke during the ensuing argument.
Samardzija (1-0), a former Notre Dame receiver, got his first major league win. Carlos Marmol struck out two with two on in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in nine chances.
Philadelphia lost its third in a row and fell two games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Brewers 3, Pirates 1
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ryan Braun hit a three-run home run, and Milwaukee handed Pittsburgh its eighth straight loss.
Dave Bush (9-9) allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings for Milwaukee, which expanded its lead to 4 1/2 games over St. Louis in the NL wild-card race.
Salomon Torres picked up his 26th save for the Brewers, who have won six of seven and improved to 9-1 against Pittsburgh this season.
Nate McLouth homered and had two hits for the Pirates, who have lost 12 of 14 games.
Braun's 34th home run of the season came in the first inning against Tom Gorzelanny (6-9). Rickie Weeks singled and J.J. Hardy walked in front of the Milwaukee left fielder.
Gorzelanny, who retired 21 of 24 batters after Braun's home run, allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings. He's now lost his past three starts, all to Milwaukee.
Astros 3, Cardinals 2
HOUSTON (AP) -- Lance Berkman hit a game-ending solo home run off former teammate Russ Springer to lift Houston over St. Louis.
Berkman's 27th homer on a 2-1 pitch from Springer (2-1) hit off the facade in left field, and fireworks exploded while he rounded the bases. The Astros raced out of the dugout, and Berkman flipped his helmet in the air as he leaped onto home plate.
Doug Brocail (6-5) pitched a scoreless ninth in relief to earn the win. The Cardinals wasted a stellar start from Kyle Lohse, who allowed two runs on seven hits in eight strong innings.
David Newhan hit a two-run homer off Lohse in the seventh after Lohse had stifled the Astros most of the night. Lohse lost for the first time in four starts against Houston this season.
Astros starter Randy Wolf matched Lohse for six innings, allowing one earned run and three hits.
Red 11, Giants 7
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Edwin Encarnacion hit his second career grand slam off Barry Zito, and Chris Dickerson homered and drove in four runs to help Cincinnati to just its ninth win in the past 32 games.
The Reds' best offensive showing since they traded Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn helped All-Star right-hander Edinson Volquez (16-5) get another milestone win.
This one wasn't his best -- six runs in 5 1-3 innings -- but was good enough to get him the most wins for a Reds pitcher since 1988, when left-hander Danny Jackson won 23.
Zito (8-16) gave up eight runs -- seven earned -- in 3 1-3 innings, a line eerily similar to an April outing against Cincinnati that resulted in him being banished to the bullpen. The 2002 AL Cy Young winner is the first major leaguer to lose 16 games this season.
Nationals 7, Braves 3
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lastings Milledge and Ryan Zimmerman both drove in two runs and Washington beat Atlanta for a season-high fourth straight win.
Odalis Perez (6-10) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win for the first time in four starts. The left-hander walked two and struck out three.
Joel Hanrahan, the sixth Washington pitcher, got the final two outs for his seventh save.
Cristian Guzman, who became the second National to hit for the cycle in Thursday night's victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, had two hits and is on an 11-for-18 tear.
Atlanta's Jorge Campillo (7-7) went 3 1-3 innings, allowing five runs and eight hits. He walked three and struck out three.