The cheating controversy in major league baseball continued last night at the Astrodome when Houston's Billy Hatcher was ejected from the Astros' 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs for using an illegal corked bat.

"The bat was hollowed out at the barrel and had three or four inches of cork inside it," umpire crew chief John McSherry said. "When he hit the ball, the bat broke. {Keith} Moreland picked it up and showed it to Dana {umpire DeMuth}, who brought it to me. After that, it was easy. The cork was obvious to see."

Hatcher disclaimed any knowledge of the cork being in the bat and said he borrowed the bat.

"I was out of bats, so I grabbed one of the pitchers' bats. I don't even know whose bat it was," Hatcher said. "I ran down to first and they told me that bat was corked and I was out. I had no idea it was corked. You could have checked any of my bats."

Houston Manager Hal Lanier defended Hatcher. "Billy was really innocent. That was one of the bats our pitchers use to play their silly little games to see how far they can hit the ball in batting practice," Lanier said. "Billy was out of bats, and they just happened to be the same model he uses, so he just picked it up."

Houston relief pitcher Dave Smith later admitted the bat belonged to him, but said he didn't know how the cork got into the bat.

Chicago Manager Gene Michael believed a severe penalty is appropriate for anyone caught cheating. "There is more cheating going on now and we've got to do something about it," Michael said. "You've got to have tough penalties. Three months. Suspend him three months."

With none out in the fourth and Gerald Young on first, Hatcher, Houston's leading hitter, broke his bat into two parts singling to Shawon Dunston at short. Home plate umpire DeMuth recovered the remnants of the bat and after they were examined by McSherry and Lanier, Hatcher was called out and ejected.

Mets 9, Padres 1:

In San Diego, Keith Hernandez drove in four runs and David Cone and Randy Myers combined on a five-hitter to lead New York.

Cone (4-3) pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up three hits. Myers allowed two hits and recorded his fourth save.

Earlier in the day, the Mets activated left-hander Bob Ojeda from the disabled list.

Giants 14, Expos 4:

Winning pitcher Rick Reuschel batted in two runs and scored another in a six-run third inning that sparked San Francisco over visiting Montreal.

The Expos played the game under protest after a sixth inning catcher's interference call against Jeff Reed.

Reds 7, Cardinals 4:

Eric Davis, Nick Esasky and Buddy Bell hit home runs, leading Cincinnati to a victory in St. Louis that ended the Cardinals' six-game winning streak.

Braves 4, Pirates 0:

Zane Smith pitched a four-hitter for his seventh win in eight starts, Ted Simmons hit a two-run home run and Atlanta won in Pittsburgh, ending the Pirates' seven-game winning streak and the Braves' five-game losing streak.

Phillies 7, Dodgers 5:

Lance Parrish hit a two-run homer and Von Hayes singled twice and scored twice to lead Philadelphia in Los Angeles.

Earlier, Phillies pitcher Kevin Gross lost his appeal of a 10-day suspension imposed when sandpaper was found in his glove during a game last month.