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Hampton Beats Cubs, Wins 16th

Mike Hampton didn't even need his best stuff to become the NL's first 16-game winner.

Hampton (16-3) scattered two runs and four hits for seven innings Sunday night, and Carl Everett drove in three runs as the Houston Astros defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-2. The 16 wins are a career-high for Hampton, who won despite a season-high six walks.

"I had quite a bit of movement," he said. "My control was due to a combination of things. The wind was from right to left, and I struggled with my release point. I had to battle."

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  • But after giving up two hits and a run in the second, Hampton never gave the Cubs a chance to get anything going. He retired five straight batters, and finished with five strikeouts.

    It was his seventh victory in a row. He hasn't lost or had a no-decision since June 24, when he and the Astros lost 3-0 to Cincinnati.

    "It was a gutty performance, but far from the best he's pitched," Astros manager Larry Dierker said. "He was wild throughout the game. But when men got on base, he got them out."

    Everett's bat helped, too. Everett, who homered from both sides of the plate Saturday, was the hitting star again Sunday. His single up the middle in the third inning drove in two runs, and he added another RBI single in the fifth.

    Everett, who came off the disabled list Friday, was 9-for-13 with 10 RBIs in the four-game series.

    "It's so good to have him back in the lineup," Dierker said. "The things he can do with the bat and in the outfield, once he's completely healthy, he'll create things on the bases as well."

    Micah Bowie (0-3), who came to the Cubs from Atlanta on July 31 in a trade for Terry Mulhlland and Jose Hernandez, gave up four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings. It was still better than his first outing for the Cubs, when he gave up seven runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.

    The Cubs have now lost 13 of 17 games and are 10 games below .500, a season low. Houston, meanwhile, has won 13 of 17 games.

    Sammy Sosa, who trails Mark McGwire by two home runs for the major league lead, went 0-for-4. He is 1-for-18 in his last five games, and hasn't homered since Wednesday.

    "We're trying to win a ball game," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's all we're doing."

    Hampton's winning streak didn't look too secure in the second inning. With two outs, he walked Henry Rodriguez, who moved to second on a single by Jose Nieves. Hampton looked like he might get the third out when Benito Santiago knocked the ball back to the mound, but it hit the pitcher in the foot and bounced back toward the third-base line.

    By the time Hampton ran it down, Santiago was safely on first to load the bases. Hampton then forced in a run with a walk to Bowie, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Hampton finally got out of the inning when Chad Meyers struck out swinging.

    "He's learned to keep the ball out of the hitting zone," Dierker said. "That's smart, to a point. You walk too many, you'll end up having to pay. Conditions helped him tonight."

    The Astros got all the runs they needed in the next inning. Matt Mieske followed Everett's two-run single with a single to short. Nieves probably could have made the play, but he was thrown off by Derek Bell, who was going from second to third, and the ball skipped into the outfield.

    Nieves chased it down and threw home, hitting Bell in the elbow, but Bell still scored to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

    Paul Bako scored on a passed ball and pinch-hitter Bill Spiers had an RBI single in the eighth off Steve Rain to make it 6-2.


  • Hampton was minutes behind Boston's Pedro Martinez as the major leagues' first 16-game winner. Martinez and the Red Sox won 9-3 at Anaheim on Sunday night.
  • Cubs outfielder Chad Meyers, recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Friday, celebrated his 24th birthday Sunday with his first major league hit, a double own the right-field line in the fifth inning.
  • Sunday was the 11th anniversary of the first night game at Wrigley Field, the last major league ball park to get lights. The Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies only played 3 ½ innings Aug. 8, 1988, before the game was postponed by rain, so the first official night game didn't go into the books until the next night.
  • Former astronaut James Lovell, commander of Apollo 13, was the guest conductor for the seventh-inning stretch Sunday.

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