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Dodger victory tightens races

It's too early to give the NL East to the Atlanta Braves -- or even to count out Los Angeles in the NL West.

Jeff Weaver won his fourth straight decision and Milton Bradley hit a three-run homer as the Dodgers tightened the races in both divisions by beating the Braves, 7-4, last night in Atlanta.

By splitting a doubleheader with Washington, Philadelphia pulled within 4 1/2 games of first-place Atlanta in the East.

The Dodgers, 10 games under .500, are only four games behind first-place San Diego in the West after the Padres' 2-0 loss to Florida.

Weaver (11-8) gave up 10 hits and four runs -- three earned -- in six innings. He has pitched at least six innings in 16 consecutive starts, a career-best streak.

Weaver gave up three hits, including a run-scoring single by Brian McCann, in the second inning. He then shut out the Braves until Andruw Jones hit his major league-leading 39th homer, a two-run shot to left, in the sixth inning. The homer drove in Chipper Jones, who reached on third baseman Oscar Robles's fielding error.

Phillies, 2-1; Nationals, 5-4 -- Carlos Baerga's go-ahead single in the eighth lifted Washington to a split of a day-night doubleheader at Philadelphia.

In the opener, the Phillies' Vicente Padilla (6-11) kept up his run of outstanding starts and Bobby Abreu delivered a key two-RBI double.

The Nationals had been shut down twice in the late innings by Philadelphia's bullpen the last two games, only to rally against Ugueth Urbina (3-1) in the eighth.

Urbina pitched a scoreless eighth the last two games against the Nationals -- including one stint only hours earlier -- but blew a 4-3 lead and wasted a chance for the Phillies to build on their NL wild-card lead.

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 2 -- Claudio Vargas worked six solid innings and Luis Gonzalez homered twice, helping Arizona win in St. Louis to avoid a three-game sweep.

Cardinals pitcher Jason Marquis had an infield hit and an RBI double his first two at-bats, giving him six straight hits, before flying out in the seventh. He leads all pitchers with 25 hits, four more than the rest of the St. Louis rotation, and a .373 average.

Troy Glaus had three hits and an RBI and Royce Clayton had a two-run double for the Diamondbacks, who ended a four-game skid in which they were outscored, 35-15. The Diamondbacks beat the Cardinals for only the third time in 15 attempts over three seasons.

Pirates 5, Mets 0 -- Rookie Zach Duke won his sixth straight decision, limiting New York to two hits in seven innings at Shea Stadium.

Pitching with the poise of a veteran, the 22-year-old lefthander allowed just four base runners. He struck out five and walked one.

Duke (6-0) retired the first 11 batters, mixing speeds and keeping the hitters off balance.

New York's first base runner came with two outs in the fourth inning, when right fielder Nate McLouth dropped Carlos Beltran's routine fly ball. The mistake hardly disturbed Duke, who struck out cleanup hitter Cliff Floyd with a curveball, ending the inning.

Marlins 2, Padres 0 -- Josh Beckett pitched seven innings and had an RBI single to help Florida defeat San Diego at Miami, the Marlins' second straight shutout over the Padres.

Beckett (12-6) allowed four hits, two walks, and struck out six in winning his fourth straight decision. Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 26th save.

Jake Peavy (10-6) allowed two runs, five hits, three walks, and struck out nine in losing consecutive starts for the only second time this season.

Brewers 5, Astros 2 -- Milwaukee got to Roger Clemens for four runs in the seventh inning to rally for the victory at Houston.

Damian Miller's bases-loaded, two-run double put the Brewers ahead and highlighted the seventh as Milwaukee won its third straight and fourth in the last five games.

Clemens (11-5) gave up a season-high five earned runs and lost for the first time since July 17. He was 4-0 in five starts since then.

Reds 4, Giants 2 -- Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 530th career home run and Felipe Lopez also connected as host Cincinnati avoided a sweep.

Ramon Ortiz pitched a season-high 7 2/3 innings in helping prevent the Giants' first four-game sweep in Cincinnati since May 1983.

Indians 9, Rangers 4 -- Jake Westbrook won for the fifth time in six starts and Cleveland moved closer in the AL wild-card race, beating visiting Texas.

Jhonny Peralta had three hits, including a two-run homer, as the Indians pulled within 2 1/2 games of idle Oakland. Coco Crisp and Travis Hafner each drove in two runs.

Cleveland won for the second time in six games at Jacobs Field after completing a 6-0 trip to Detroit and Kansas City. Texas lost for the eighth time in nine games -- all on the road.

Twins 7, Mariners 3 -- Matthew LeCroy hit his third home run in two games, leading Minnesota over Seattle at Minneapolis for its fifth straight victory.

Justin Morneau drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run in the third, and Shannon Stewart had his second four-hit game of the season in Minnesota's seventh win in eight games.

The Twins remain in fourth place in the AL wild-card race, but moved within 3 1/2 games of idle Oakland.

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