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Howard's bomb leads Phillies closer in wild card race

Thursday, September 11, 2008

By The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard hit his major league-leading 43rd homer and Jamie Moyer pitched 5 2-3 effective innings for Philadelphia in a 6-3 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night.

The Phillies pulled within three games of the NL East-leading Mets and the wild card-leading Brewers by roughing up Ben Sheets (13-8).

Prince Fielder hit his first homer since Aug. 13, but slumping Milwaukee lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

Moyer (14-7) allowed three runs and four hits, improving to 7-1 in his last 13 starts. He was pitching on three days' rest for the first time since 2004.

He left after Fielder's two-run shot made it 4-3. Ryan Madson pitched two innings, Chad Durbin retired the only batter he faced with two on in the eighth and Brad Lidge finished for his 36th save in as many chances.

Sheets, who entered with a 20-inning scoreless streak, allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings.

Howard connected in the first to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.

Astros 6, Pirates 0

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roy Oswalt threw a three-hitter for his second straight complete-game shutout and set a Houston record for consecutive scoreless innings.

Houston has won 14 of 15 to pull within three games of NL wild card-leading Milwaukee, which lost 6-3 at Philadelphia, but it's uncertain when the Astros will play again. The first two games of their weekend series against Chicago were postponed and Sunday's matchup could be next with Hurricane Ike closing in on Texas.

Oswalt (15-9), who had two RBIs, hasn't allowed a run in 32 1-3 innings, passing the record of 31 set by J.R. Richard in 1980. He needed only 90 pitches to finish his sixth career shutout and 15th complete game.

Oswalt retired 20 in a row after Luis Rivas' one-out single in the first inning on his way to winning for the ninth time in 10 decisions.

The Astros have won six straight and their 36-16 record since the All-Star break is the best mark in the majors.

The Pirates have lost six straight and 17 of 20.

Braves 8, Rockies 4

ATLANTA (AP) -- Yunel Escobar's three-run homer capped a five-run sixth inning for Atlanta, which completed a three-game sweep.

The Rockies, who have lost five straight, fell 8 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the NL West.

Braves rookie Jair Jurrjens (13-9) set a career high with 10 strikeouts, allowing eight hits and four runs in six innings.

Escobar had three hits, including his 10th homer, and a walk.

Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez gave up five hits and three runs, two earned, in five innings. He struck out six but walked four. He left with a 4-3 lead, but the Braves scored five runs in the sixth off Glendon Rusch (5-5) and Matt Herges.

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