Jones homers twice as Braves down St. Louis Cardinals

NEW YORK, Reuters

Chipper Jones cracked two homers and Julio Franco’s two-run double in the seventh inning drove in the winning runs as the streaking Atlanta Braves downed the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in the National League Saturday.

The host Braves improved to 21-7 since the All-Star break and opened up an eight-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies in the East Division.

St. Louis lost for only the third time in 11 outings. The Cards had taken the opener of the three-game series, and a possible playoff match-up, Friday.

Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal also homered for the Braves, who are chasing a 14th straight division title.

Furcal finished up with four hits for the Braves, who had 15 hits in all, and three RBI while also scoring a run.

Nick Green, Eddie Perez and Chipper Jones all had two hits for Atlanta, which went ahead to stay with three seventh-inning runs.

Antonio Alfonseca (6 4) allowed one unearned run on one hit in one inning for the victory. John Smoltz, the sixth Atlanta pitcher, seized the last four outs for his 29th save of the season.

Ray King (4-2) was the loser after giving up two runs on one hit in 1/3 inning.

Albert Pujols recorded two home runs for the Cards, giving him 35 on the season. Starter Jason Marquis added two hits and drove in a run.

In Philadelphia, Yorvit Torrealba’s eighth-inning homer lifted the San Francisco Giants to a 7-6 triumph over the Phillies.

Cody Ransom, Dustan Mohr and Marquis Grissom also homered for the Giants, who won for the third successive time to move within 6 1/2 games of first place Los Angeles in the West Division.

Jason Christiansen (2 2) picked up two outs in the seventh for the victory and Dustin Hermanson finished up for his second save of the season.

Placido Polanco homered for the Phillies, losers of five out of their last six at home. Polanco and Jimmy Rollins both had three hits while Felix Rodriguez (4-6) allowed the game-winning homer to take the loss.

In Chicago, Kerry Wood homered and surrendered four hits over eight shutout innings as the Cubs blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0.

Wood (7-5) struck out seven batters and walked three while also notching his seventh career home run. Mike Remlinger allowed one hit in the ninth to complete the five-hitter and claim his first save of the season.

Kazuhisa Ishii (11-6) gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings for the loss.

In Milwaukee, Jeff Conine stroked a grand slam homer and Dontrelle Willis pitched seven strong innings to power the Florida Marlins to an 11-1 hammering of the Brewers.

Willis (9-8) allowed one run on seven hits with three strikeouts. Conine had three hits while Paul Lo Duca added two hits and two RBI for the Marlins.

In Pittsburgh, Oliver Perez tossed a two-hitter over six innings as the Pirates crushed the Colorado Rockies 6-1.

In Cincinnati, Willy Mo Pena homered twice and drove in four runs to help the Reds brush aside the San Diego Padres 11-5.

Darren Bragg and Adam Dunn, with his 36th of the season, also homered for the Reds while D’Angelo Jimenez had three hits and three RBI. Jose Acevedo (5-10) allowed five runs on eight hits over six innings for the win.

In New York, Cliff Floyd homered and drove in three runs as the Mets edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3.

Al Leiter (9 4) went 6 2/3 innings for the victory, allowing three runs on nine hits, while Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his 24th save of the season. Richard Hidalgo recorded two hits for New York.

In Montreal, Nick Johnson’s seventh inning grand slam guided the Expos to an 8-3 triumph over the Houston Astros.