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August 13, 2009

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Francisco powers Phillies past Cubs

BEN Francisco's 12th-inning homer provided the winning run for the Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, the blast ensuring the World Series champions avoided a fourth straight loss.

The outfielder led off the 12th with a solo drive against pitcher Kevin Gregg before Phillies reliever Chad Durbin polished off the bottom half of the inning to pick up the save.

"It felt great to get a big hit like that in a pennant race," Francisco said. "I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to be playing for a team with a chance to go to the playoffs."

Francisco, acquired from Cleveland two weeks ago, lined a 1-1 pitch into the basket that hangs over the left-field fence. Francisco is batting .345 with six homers and 12 RBI in his past 16 games.

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Marlins 9, Astros 8 (in 11 innings); Braves 8, Nationals 1; Padres 13, Brewers 6; Reds 5, Cardinals 4; Pirates 7, Rockies 3; Diamondbacks 6, Mets 2; and Dodgers 9, Giants 1.

In the American League, it was: Orioles 3, Athletics 2; Indians 5, Rangers 0; Yankees 7, Blue Jays 5; Red Sox 7, Tigers 5; Royals 14, Twins 6; Angels 6, Rays 0; and White Sox 3, Mariners 1.

In Chicago, the Cubs (58-53) forced extra innings with a ninth-inning run against Brad Lidge, who started the inning by walking Kosuke Fukudome and allowed the game-tying RBI single by Milton Bradley.

Behind right-hander Rich Harden, Chicago was in firm control with a 2-0 advantage before Jimmy Rollins rallied Philadelphia with a two-run homer in the sixth, a blow that broke up a no-hitter by the starter.

Harden completed seven innings and struck out six batters before Carlos Marmol ran into trouble in the eighth.

The right-handed relief pitcher walked Ryan Howard with the bases loaded to bring in the go-ahead run, one of his three base on balls in the inning to go with one hit batsman.

Philadelphia (62-48) scratched out its runs despite just three hits while left-hander J.A. Happ kept the team close by holding the Cubs to two runs in six innings of work.

The 26-year-old Happ fired 100 pitches and took the no-decision to keep his record at 8-2 in his first full season. Scott Eyre (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief to pick up the win.

Despite leading the NL East by 3 1/2 games, Philadelphia has struggled of late culminating with a 3-12 loss to Florida on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.


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