MILWAUKEE Ryan Braun is not scoreboard watching yet. He does know, however, exactly where the Milwaukee Brewers are in the NL Central standings: tied for first place with the Chicago Cubs.
Braun homered and drove in four runs, Bill Hall hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning and the Brewers grabbed a share of the NL Central lead with a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
Milwaukee has won nine of 10 to catch the Cubs, who lost 3-2 to the Florida Marlins in 12 innings Saturday.
"It really is pretty incredible to make up five games this quickly," Braun said, alluding to the five-game lead the Cubs had over the Brewers at the All-Star break, just nine games ago.
"The roles are kind of reversed. The pressure is on them this year. All the expectations are on them. We learned a lot last year, the importance and significance of every game and not really focusing on what the Cubs are doing or what the Cardinals are doing, but focusing on ourselves. We've done a good job of that so far."
Eric Gagne (4-2) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win, and Salomon Torres got three outs for his 20th save. Ray Durham doubled twice and scored three runs.
PHILLIES 10, BRAVES 9: At Philadelphia, pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs delivered a three-run homer in a seven-run fifth inning and the Phillies rallied past Atlanta to spoil Mike Hampton's return to the major leagues. Making his first appearance since Aug. 19, 2005, Hampton gave up six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings and couldn't protect a 9-3 lead. The two-time All-Star overcame two major operations on his left elbow and an assortment of other injuries to finally make it back for the first time since Aug. 19, 2005.
Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer during Atlanta's nine-run fourth inning, but the Braves lost their 25th straight one-run game on the road.
Adam Eaton (4-8) pitched a scoreless inning to get the win in his third career relief appearance. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero each pitched a scoreless inning, and Brad Lidge finished for his 23rd save in 23 chances.
Blaine Boyer (2-6) took the loss.
MARLINS 3, CUBS 2 (12 INNINGS): At Chicago, Jeremy Hermida hit two homers and scored the decisive run on Jorge Cantu's 12th-inning double to lead Florida over Chicago despite 20 strikeouts by Cubs pitchers. Rich Harden struck out 10 for the third time in three starts with Chicago.
ROCKIES 5, REDS 1: At Cincinnati, Colorado piled up 15 hits in less than five innings off Homer Bailey, another offensive splurge that sent Jorge De La Rosa and Colorado to a victory over Cincinnati. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 607th career homer for the Reds off De La Rosa (5-5), who gave up two hits in 6 2/3 innings of a breakthrough win. The left-hander hadn't won a game on the road all season.
Every Rockies starter had at least one hit off the right-handed Bailey (0-4), who left after De La Rosa singled home a pair of runs with two outs in the fourth for a 5-1 lead.
Colorado's offense has been running full-throttle since the All-Star break, setting up an 8-1 surge that suggests the Rockies may not be out of it in the weak NL West. Colorado has averaged 7.2 runs during that tear, and has piled up at least 11 hits in each of its last seven games.
The Reds are 4-5 on a homestand since the All-Star break, leaving them marooned in fourth in the NL Central.
PADRES 9, PIRATES 6: At Pittsburgh, Adrian Gonzalez hit two of San Diego's four home runs while driving in four runs in a victory over the Pirates. Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit three-run homers off John Van Benschoten (1-3), who gave up seven runs, four extra-base hits and walked four in 1 2/3 innings of another miserable start. As a starter, the former first-round draft pick is 0-9 the last two seasons and 1-11 in his career.
After Franquelis Osoria replaced Van Benschoten, Nick Hundley hit his first career homer leading off the third and Gonzalez started the fourth with his 25th of the season and second of the game.
Josh Banks (3-4) won for the first time in seven starts since June 19 despite giving up five runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. Trevor Hoffman recorded the final out for his 20th save.
Jason Michaels, Adam LaRoche and Jose Bautista homered for Pittsburgh.
DIAMONDBACKS 5, GIANTS 3: At San Francisco, Brandon Webb struck out eight to pass 1,000 for his career and got the win in a matchup with fellow All-Star right-hander Tim Lincecum. Webb (14-4) allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings to become the second pitcher in the majors with 14 victories. Chris Snyder had two hits and drove in two runs for the Diamondbacks, who have won four of five to climb one game over .500 for the first time since June 30.
DODGERS 6, NATIONALS 0: At Los Angeles, Derek Lowe allowed one hit over eight innings, Matt Kemp and Nomar Garciaparra homered, and the Dodgers gave Odalis Perez a rude welcome back to Chavez Ravine. Lowe (8-8) threw 107 pitches and gave up his only hit when Ronnie Belliard doubled off the center field fence with one out in the fourth. The right-hander struck out four, walked one and retired his last 13 batters while sending the Nationals to their eighth straight loss at Dodger Stadium. He also had a pair of singles, one of which drove in a run, and improved to 5-0 against Washington.
Joe Beimel allowed a one-out single by Willie Harris in the ninth before rookie Cory Wade finished the combined two-hitter.
Casey Blake, acquired by the Dodgers from Cleveland on Saturday for a pair of minor leaguers, started at third base and was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.
CARDINALS 10, METS 8 (14 INNINGS): At New York, Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the 14th inning for his fifth hit of the night, Skip Schumaker did him one better with a career-best six hits and St. Louis snapped a season-worst five-game losing streak.
Schumaker singled with one out in the 14th against a tiring Aaron Heilman (1-4). Ryan Ludwick struck out before Pujols hit a 2-0 pitch into the bleachers in left field for his first home run since he connected for No. 300 on July 4.
Brad Thompson (3-2) worked two perfect innings for the win.
YANKEES 10, RED SOX 3: At Boston, Robinson Cano homered and drove in three runs, Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees another strong start and New York beat Boston for its season-best eighth straight win. The Yankees closed within one game of second-place Boston in the AL East and remained unbeaten since the All-Star break. Newly acquired Xavier Nady started in left field in his first game with New York, and reliever Damaso Marte struck out David Ortiz in a key spot. The Yankees finalized their deal with Pittsburgh on Saturday, acquiring Nady and Marte for four minor leaguers. Cano went 3-for-4 with his ninth homer and a two-run double. Pettitte (12-7) allowed one earned run and struck out seven over six innings to continue a brilliant run by New York starters, who have allowed three earned runs or less in 15 of their last 16 games.
Tim Wakefield (6-8) gave up six runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings for the Red Sox.
BLUE JAYS 8, MARINERS 3: At Toronto, Alex Rios homered twice, David Purcey earned his first major league win and the streaking Blue Jays handed the Mariners their seventh consecutive defeat. Seattle, which has won one of eight since the All-Star break, matched its longest skid of the season. The Mariners also lost seven straight from May 20-26. The Blue Jays equaled a season high by winning their fifth straight.
Purcey (1-1), who made two spot starts for Toronto earlier this season, gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Jose Lopez homered and drove in three runs for Seattle, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.
Starting in place of Carlos Silva (sore lower back), right-hander R.A. Dickey (2-6) allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
RANGERS 9, ATHLETICS 4: At Oakland, Calif., Josh Hamilton hit a three-run homer to increase his major league-leading RBI total to 103, and Texas beat All-Star pitcher Justin Duchscherer. Chris Davis hit a solo homer and doubled in a run, Marlon Byrd added a solo shot and Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a two-run double for the Rangers, who took the lead in the third. But Duchscherer settled down and retired eight straight during one stretch before running into more trouble.
Davis' homer to start the seventh was the first of four straight hits off Duchscherer (10-7), and Michael Young's RBI single chased the right-hander.
Emil Brown and Mark Ellis each hit a solo homer for the A's, who lost their third straight and ninth in 10 games.
Matt Harrison (2-1) went five innings for the win.
ANGELS 11, ORIOLES 6: At Baltimore, Torii Hunter homered twice, had five RBIs and scored four runs to carry Los Angeles past skidding Baltimore. Hunter went 3-for-3 with two walks in his third two-homer game this season and the 11th of his career. Casey Kotchman and Juan Rivera also homered for the Angels and Garret Anderson became the first player in franchise history to score 1,000 runs. Jon Garland (9-6) got the victory despite allowing five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Los Angeles has won nine of 10, including seven of eight since the All-Star break, and owns the best record in the majors (64-39).
Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott homered for the Orioles, who have lost five straight. They are winless in eight consecutive series after dropping the first two games of this three-game set.
Radhames Liz (4-3) gave up six runs in 5 2-3 innings, the eighth straight game in which a Baltimore starter has failed to go six innings. Orioles starters have a 10.32 ERA during their five-game skid, which ties a season high.
WHITE SOX 7, TIGERS 6: At Detroit, Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye hit consecutive homers and drove in two runs apiece to help Chicago hold off Detroit. The first-place White Sox won their fourth straight and stretched their lead to four games over Minnesota and 7 1/2 games over third-place Detroit in the AL Central. Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez homered for the Tigers, who lost for the second consecutive night after winning four straight.
John Danks (8-4) allowed five runs four earned and eight hits in six innings to improve to 5-0 in his last 11 starts. Bobby Jenks got three outs for his 21st save in 24 chances.
Justin Verlander (8-10) gave up seven runs and nine hits in four-plus innings, ending his six-game winning streak. He is 2-7 with a 6.03 ERA against Chicago in his career, including 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA this season. Verlander had never lost 10 games in a season before.
TWINS 11, INDIANS 4: At Cleveland, Brian Buscher hit a three-run homer and had a career-high five RBIs to help Minnesota end a five-game losing streak with a victory over Cleveland.
Fausto Carmona (4-3) had a rocky return to the Indians' rotation. The right-hander, who missed two months with a strained left hip, allowed nine runs in 2 1-3 innings, including six in the first.
The loss followed a busy day off the field for the Indians, who traded third baseman Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers. Scott Baker (7-3) allowed three runs in five innings. The right-hander has won five of his last six decisions.
Delmon Young had three hits for the Twins, including a two-run single.
Andy Marte, who will see the bulk of the playing time at third base with Blake gone, hit a solo homer for Cleveland.
RAYS 5, ROYALS 3: At Kansas City, Mo., Carl Crawford's tiebreaking, two-run triple with two outs in the eighth inning sent Tampa Bay past over the Royals. Carlos Pena added a home run in the ninth, helping Tampa Bay extend its AL East lead to two games over Boston.
Crawford, who had his seventh career two-triple game and second of the season, drove Horacio Ramirez's pitch to right-center in the eighth, scoring Akinori Iwamura and B.J. Upton to give the Rays a 4-2 lead.