Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Hoffman nearing saves record

ONE TO TIE The Padres' closer will catch Lee Smith at 478 with the next game he wraps up and leads NL relievers this year with 41

AP , SAN DIEGOAP, BOSTON

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz follows through on his home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of their American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Trevor Hoffman earned his 477th career save to pull within one of tying Lee Smith's career record and Mike Cameron hit a two-run triple for the San Diego Padres, who notched a victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 on Thursday to keep their slim lead atop the National League West.

The Padres remained one-half game in front of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Thursday night.

Hoffman pitched the ninth for his NL-best 41st save in 46 chances. With his next save he will tie Smith, who had 478 with eight teams in a career that lasted from 1980 to 1997. The 38-year-old Hoffman had two saves in this three-game series after blowing a save in Monday night's wild 11-10 loss in 10 innings at Los Angeles.

Dodgers 5, Pirates 2

At Los Angeles, Olmedo Saenz hit a two-run homer and Los Angeles beat Pittsburgh to avoid a three-game sweep. The victory gave Los Angeles a half-game lead over idle Philadelphia in the wild-card race and kept them a half-game behind San Diego in the NL West.

Astros 6, Cardinals 5

At Houston, Lance Berkman hit a pair of two-run homers off St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter. Berkman tied a career high with his 42nd homer in the fifth, then set a new mark with a two-run drive into the Astros' bullpen in the eighth.

Marlins 5, Mets 2

At New York, Pedro Martinez looked more comfortable in his latest playoff tuneup, but he was outpitched by Florida rookie Anibal Sanchez. Miguel Olivo and Hanley Ramirez each drove in two runs during a four-run fifth against Martinez and Sanchez (9-3) worked seven strong innings to win for the fifth time in six decisions.

Brewers 9, Giants 4

At Milwaukee, Moises Alou homered twice for San Francisco, which lost for the fifth time in six games. The Giants fell five games back in the NL West and 4 1/2 behind in the wild-card race.

Braves 6, Rockies 3

At Denver, John Smoltz scattered nine hits over seven innings and Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer to help Atlanta beat Colorado. The Braves announced earlier on Thursday that they had picked up the team's US$8 million option for next season for Smoltz (14-9).

David Ortiz broke a 68-year-old home run record on Thursday to help the Boston Red Sox end the Minnesota Twins' three-hour stay in first place with a 6-0 win.

Boston's designated hitter slammed his 51st and 52nd homers of the season, passing Jimmie Foxx's team record of 50 set in 1938, and the Red Sox sent Twins ace Johan Santana to his first loss since the All-Star break.

Minnesota entered the game with a slim lead over Detroit in the American League Central. It was the first time the Twins had led the division this season after the Tigers were alone in the top spot since May 20.

Minnesota dropped a half-game behind with the loss and leads the wild-card race by 5 1/2 games over the Chicago White Sox, who lost 9-0 to Seattle on Thursday.

Josh Beckett (16-10) broke his career high of 15 victories set last year, going eight innings and giving up six hits.

Orioles 4, Tigers 3

At Baltimore, Melvin Mora doubled in two runs during the eighth inning to help Baltimore rally for a win over Detroit. Detroit retained its half-game lead in the American League Central when the second-place Minnesota Twins lost 6-0 at Boston.

Athletics 7, Indians 4

At Oakland, California, Rich Harden struck out seven in an impressive return from the disabled list and Jason Kendall hit a pair of two-run singles for Oakland. The first-place A's reduced their magic number to four to win their first division title since 2003.

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