August 16, 2006


Two cities, twice as much baseball

Cubs, Diamondbacks both survive 18-inning struggles


The Associated Press
The scoreboard hangs over Colorado Rockies’ Ryan Spilborghs, front right, as he makes the final out in the Rockies’ 2-1 loss in 18 innings to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a baseball game in Denver today. Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder, front center, and home plate umpire Paul Nauert look on. The 5:21 game was the longest in the history of the Rockies, who joined the National League as an expansion team in 1993.

AP Baseball Writer

The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs played on and on, long after Roger Clemens left and Brad Lidge blew another save.
Nine innings, 12, 15 ... 18!
And they weren’t alone.
For the first time in major league history Tuesday night, two games on the same day lasted 18 innings. The other was in Colorado, where the Arizona Diamondbacks pulled out a 2-1 victory at 12:26 a.m. MDT.
About 45 minutes earlier, Chicago outlasted Houston 8-6 thanks to two big swings by Matt Murton. He hit a tying homer off Lidge in the top of the ninth and a two-run single in the 18th.
“I was a little tired,” Murton said. “That’s just part of the game. You have to find a way to get over it. It was a great night in the sense we were able to win a game like that.”
Two cities, twice as much baseball.
The first-time feat overshadowed Jose Reyes’ three homers, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 17th win in 18 games, and Chris Carpenter’s four-hit shutout of Cincinnati.
At Coors Field, the longest game in Rockies history finally ended after Luis Gonzalez’s RBI single off Ramon Ramirez (3-3).
There were 15 pitchers and 514 pitches. Gonzalez was 0-for-7 before his decisive hit.
“This,” Colorado’s Cory Sullivan said, “was a war of attrition.”
Same thing in Houston, where the Cubs and Astros played the longest regular-season game in the 6-year history of Minute Maid Park.
By the end, Chicago manager Dusty Baker was down to his last pitcher — and player — Rich Hill, who was slated to start Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to Murton, Hill (3-5) only had to throw 28 pitches, shutting out the Astros in the 17th and 18th.
The teams used 18 pitchers in all, tying an NL record. Hill finally ended it after 5 hours, 36 minutes, by striking out Morgan Ensberg at 12:41 a.m. CDT on the game’s 542nd pitch.
The Cubs and Astros weren’t going to get much sleep, either. The finale of their three-game series was scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. CDT on Wednesday.
“We played hard and had great pitching performances. It was just a tough one to lose,” Houston manager Phil Garner said.
It was Houston’s third 18-inning game in 10 months. The Astros outlasted Atlanta 7-6 in a home playoff game last October to advance to the NL championship series, and lost 8-7 in 18 innings at Pittsburgh on May 27.
Murton sent this one to extras with a leadoff homer in the ninth off Lidge, who blew a save in a game Clemens started for the second time in a month.
Lidge’s fifth blown save this season also cost him his job as Houston’s closer for the second time this year.
“It’s going to be closer-by-committee,” Garner said.
Clemens was shaky, giving up five runs and seven hits — two of them homers — in six innings. It was the first time in 11 starts this season he yielded more than three earned runs and more than one home run.
The Rocket was long gone by the time Dave Borkowski (1-1) came on to pitch the final six innings for the Astros, who lost their fourth straight.
Fans streamed out of the ballpark by the hundreds after each half inning, and only a few thousand were still around to see Murton’s go-ahead hit.
In Denver, only about 3,000 fans among the announced crowd of 22,076 remained for the final out of Arizona’s victory.
Brandon Medders (5-2) struck out four in three hitless innings for the win. Diamondbacks relievers allowed six hits in 12 shutout innings, striking out 13 and walking four in a game that lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.
Six Colorado relievers allowed seven hits in 10 innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks. Sullivan equaled a career high with four hits, going 4-for-8.
“We were focused to win, but the legs and the body didn’t respond,” he said.
Arizona matched its longest game by innings, a 1-0 win at San Francisco on May 29, 2001, that took 5:53. The Diamondbacks are tied for second in the NL West, 31/2 games behind Los Angeles.
“If we would have lost, it would have been a huge blow,” Gonzalez said. “We are in the thick of a race.”
Research by the Elias Sports Bureau determined it was the first time two games on the same day lasted as long as 18 innings. Still, they were not the longest games in the majors this season — the Chicago White Sox beat Boston 6-5 in 19 innings on July 9.
Phillies 11, Mets 4: At Philadelphia, Reyes hit three homers for New York, but the Phillies got a three-run shot from David Dellucci and routed the Mets for the second straight night. Randy Wolf (1-0) pitched seven strong innings for his first win since coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Reyes became the seventh player to hit three homers in a game for the Mets, who have a 13-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East. Orlando Hernandez (8-9) allowed 11 runs and 10 hits in four innings, his worst outing in the majors.
Dodgers 4, Marlins 0: At Los Angeles, rookie Chad Billingsley (4-3) allowed three hits and struck out nine over seven innings, and Kenny Lofton hit an RBI double to snap a scoreless tie in the seventh.
The streaking Dodgers have won six straight and 17 of 18, the franchise’s best run in 107 years. No team in club history had won 17 of 18 since the Brooklyn Superbas went 20-1 during one stretch in 1899.
Cardinals 5, Reds 0: At St. Louis, Carpenter (11-6) struck out six, walked none and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth. Ronnie Belliard had three hits and two RBIs in his biggest game since joining the Cardinals at the trade deadline, helping them stop a three-game skid.
Chris Duncan hit a two-run homer off Aaron Harang (12-8) as part of a three-hit night and Albert Pujols also had three hits for the NL Central leaders, who beat second-place Cincinnati for just the fifth time in 13 tries to move 21/2 games in front.
Giants 3, Padres 2: At San Diego, Shea Hillenbrand singled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth for last-place San Francisco, which won for just the fifth time in 21 games. Armando Benitez earned his 15th save in 22 chances.
The Padres are 12-19 since the All-Star break.
Nationals 5, Braves 0: At Washington, Pedro Astacio (3-2) pitched a two-hit shutout for the Nationals’ first complete game this season — leaving the Cubs as the only team in the majors without one.
Brewers 6, Pirates 3: At Pittsburgh, Bill Hall hit a go-ahead single in the eighth to make a winner of Doug Davis (9-6), and Milwaukee snapped the Pirates’ four-game winning streak.



Judge rules against reporters

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge told two San Francisco Chronicle reporters they must comply with a subpoena and tell a grand jury who leaked them secret testimony of Barry Bonds and other elite athletes ensnared in the government’s steroid probe.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White means reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada must appear before a grand jury investigating the leak unless a higher court blocks the ruling. The pair have said they would not testify and would go to jail rather than reveal their source or sources.
The two reporters published a series of articles and a book based partly on transcripts of testimony by Bonds, Jason Giambi and others who testified in the grand jury investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Known as BALCO, the Burlingame-based nutritional supplement company was exposed as a steroid ring.