Normally a strong second-half pitcher, Mike Hampton got a head start this year.
Hampton pitched eight scoreless innings, and rookie Charles Thomas homered twice, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 4-0 victory yesterday over the Phillies in Philadelphia.
"I don't look too much into it, but I'm glad I do," Hampton said of his penchant for second-half turnarounds. "That's great because I know better things are yet to come."
Hampton (4-8) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked two. John Smoltz pitched the ninth. It was the first time the Phillies have been shut out in 47 games at Citizens Bank Park.
"It seems like every time he pitches against us, he throws good," Phillies Manager Larry Bowa said about Hampton, who allowed one run in 62/3 innings in Philadelphia on May 28.
The Braves have won 11 of 14 to pull within two games of Philadelphia in the NL East.
* CARDINALS 5, CUBS 2: Jim Edmonds homered for the fourth straight game, and Jeff Suppan worked six effective innings, helping host St. Louis post its eighth straight victory.
Ray Lankford, Hector Luna and So Taguchi drove in a run apiece for the Cardinals before a crowd of 50,569.
* BREWERS 5, REDS 0: Ben Sheets (9-5) blanked Cincinnati for eight innings to lead host Milwaukee past the Reds, who lost Ken Griffey Jr. to a strained right hamstring.
Griffey was injured while running down a fly ball in the fourth inning. The Reds said the all-star outfielder will go back to Cincinnati to have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.
* DODGERS 3, ASTROS 1: In Los Angeles, Wilson Alvarez outpitched Roger Clemens, and Paul Lo Duca hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to lead the Dodgers past Houston.
Alvarez (3-3) allowed a run and three hits in six-plus innings. Eric Gagne pitched two perfect innings for his 23rd save, breaking Jeff Shaw's club record for career saves with his 130th.
* EXPOS 4, PIRATES 0: Rocky Biddle pitched five scoreless innings to win his first start in almost two years, and Jamey Carroll drove in two runs for Montreal in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Biddle (1-4) gave up two hits, one walk, struck out three and did not allow a runner past first base.
* GIANTS 3, DIAMONDBACKS 1: Barry Bonds was intentionally walked three times to set the single-season record, and Brett Tomko took a shutout into the eighth for host San Francisco.
The three intentional walks gave Bonds 71 before the all-star break, topping his own record established in 2002 when he was walked 68 times over the entire season. J.T. Snow hit a two-run homer for the Giants.
* ROCKIES 6, PADRES 2: Aaron Cook took a shutout into the seventh inning, and Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Greene each hit solo homers as visiting Colorado won its third game in a row.
Cook (4-3) allowed one run on eight hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
* MARLINS 5, METS 2: Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer to help Florida beat Tom Glavine in Miami. Glavine (7-7) allowed four runs in six innings as his career record at Pro Player Stadium fell to 6-12 with an ERA of 4.40.