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Ross, Reds enjoy last blast

David Ross hit the pitch so squarely that he didn't even feel it leave the bat.

The next few seconds felt surreal, too.

Ross's ninth-inning drive off St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen landed on the roof of the batter's eye in center field, a two-run homer that carried the host Cincinnati Reds to an 8-7 victory last night that tightened the NL Central race.

Down to their last two outs, the Reds pulled it out for a 2-1 lead in the series, which concludes today. Second-place Cincinnati moved to 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, whose top starter and closer got rocked by homers.

Chris Carpenter gave up three solo shots in seven innings, the first time in more than two years that he allowed three in a game. St. Louis almost overcame it.

Jim Edmonds hit a grand slam, and David Eckstein's tiebreaking single in the eighth put the Cardinals up, 7-6, and put Carpenter in line for the win.

Isringhausen (3-5), who entered with one out in the eighth, came out on the bad end of the last-swing drama -- Cincinnati's fifth game-ending homer this season.

He walked Rich Aurilia with one out in the ninth, only the second walk by St. Louis pitchers in the game.

Ross, who stayed in the game after pinch hitting in the seventh, then hit a high fastball onto the roof of the batter's eye, a 442-foot shot that made the capacity crowd delirious.

``I don't know if I'll sleep tonight," said Ross.

Ryan Franklin (2-5), acquired Monday, pitched a perfect ninth for the win.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 1 -- Brad Hawpe homered early and hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth to help visiting Colorado stop Los Angeles's 11-game winning streak.

Hawpe's two-out single off closer Takashi Saito scored Garrett Atkins from second and moved Matt Holliday from first to third. Holliday then provided an insurance run when he came home on a delayed double steal.

Dodgers starter Derek Lowe (9-8) gave up three runs and six hits in 8 2/3 innings.

Mets 4, Padres 3 -- Pedro Martínez allowed two solo homers to Mike Piazza in 7 1/3 strong innings to help host New York win its fourth straight.

Jose Reyes had two hits, drove in a run, and scored for New York. Martínez (9-4) allowed three hits, walked four, and struck out two. A day after Piazza was showered with ovations in his return to Shea Stadium, Martínez joined the 49,979 fans in paying homage to the former Mets star.

Astros 14, Pirates 1 -- Starter Roy Oswalt (9-7) hit one of host Houston's six homers, and Aubrey Huff connected twice and drove in a career-high six runs.

Phillies 9, Braves 3 -- Chase Utley hit a go-ahead, three-run double in an eight-run seventh and Philadelphia beat host Atlanta for its sixth win on a nine-game trip.

Brewers 6, Cubs 3 -- Dave Bush (8-8) took a no-hit bid into the sixth to help host Milwaukee snap a three-game losing streak.

Nationals 5, Marlins 2 -- Rookie Ryan Zimmerman had two hits and two walks and scored three runs for host Washington.

Diamondbacks 5, Giants 3 -- Luis Gonzalez homered and host Arizona set a club record by turning five double plays in a win over San Francisco.

Twins 4, Tigers 3 -- At Detroit, Justin Morneau hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth and Johan Santana won his fourth straight decision for Minnesota.

Santana (13-5) allowed three runs, four hits, and two walks in seven innings. He struck out 10 to raise his major league-high total to 178.

Rangers 14, Athletics 0 -- Mark DeRosa hit three-run homers in consecutive innings, Carlos Lee scored four runs, going 4 for 5 with his first homer, and Rod Barajas and Gary Matthews Jr. also hit solo homers as Texas stopped host Oakland's six-game win streak.

Mariners 2, Devil Rays 0 -- Jarrod Washburn (6-11) didn't allow a hit until Ben Zobrist's bunt single leading off the sixth, and Adrian Beltre homered to lead host Seattle to a three-game sweep.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3 -- Roy Halladay (14-3) allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings, tying the Red Sox' Curt Schilling and Detroit's Justin Verlander for the major league lead in victories.

Indians 4, Angels 0 -- Jake Westbrook (9-7) pitched his second shutout this season to lead host Cleveland.

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