Big Unit shuts down Giants, Valentine makes it a long day for Mets

National League round-up
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Bobby Valentine's mouth made it another difficult day for the New York Mets. Randy Johnson's pitching made it another tough night for the Giants at Pacific Bell Park.

Johnson kept up his early season excellence, striking out 11 Friday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat San Francisco 3-1.

The Giants have lost six in a row for the first time since September 1996. They fell to 0-4 at their new ballpark.

"We don't feel like we're in a slump," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "Our time is going to come."

The Mets, meanwhile, spent the day dealing with a controversy again caused by Valentine's comments.

Last year, the manager called five of his players "losers." This week, in a talk to Philadelphia business school students, Valentine reportedly questioned some personnel decisions made by general manager Steve Phillips.

The Mets then went out and won at Pittsburgh 8-5 in 12 innings. Mike Piazza homered twice and doubled in his first career five-hit game.

"You just have to realize people say things or do things they wish they could take back," Piazza said. "Nobody's perfect. It happens. You just have to be prepared to do your job."

In other National League games, Los Angeles beat Cincinnati 8-1, Montreal topped Philadelphia 4-0, Houston defeated San Diego 10-4, Colorado stopped St. Louis 6-2, Atlanta beat Milwaukee 6-3 and Florida downed Chicago 9-4.

Damian Miller lined a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning to lift Arizona over the Gk out 34 in 26 2-3 innings this year.

"I don't rate my starts, I just pitch to win ballgames," Johnson said.

Livan Hernandez held down the Diamondbacks until the ninth. A pair of singles set up Miller's hit.

Mets 8, Pirates 5, 12 innings

Melvin Mora hit a two-run single in the 12th inning and Piazza added a two-run homer to lead New York.

The Mets spent most of the day dealing with Valentine's remarks. A few days ago, he wondered why the Mets traded pitcher Masato Yoshii, claimed he could not bench Derek Bell because he makes too much money and said he tries to ignore unhappy outfielder Rickey Henderson.

Phillips traveled to Pittsburgh to meet with Valentine and said he was "surprised and curious" about the comments.

Phillips, who has a prickly relationship with Valentine, said the manager's job was not in jeopardy. Asked whether he thought the controversy would go away in a day or two, Valentine said: "Why would I? I think it should, though."

Dodgers 8, Reds 1

Orel Hershiser made a triumphant return to Dodger Stadium, beating Cincinnati in Los Angeles' home opener.

Back with the Dodgers after a five-year absence, the 1988 World Series MVP pitched six neat innings. The 41-year-old righty left with a 2-1 lead, and Los Angeles went on to win its fifth straight game.

Gary Sheffield had three hits, including a home run for the Dodgers.

Astros 10, Padres 4

Jeff Bagwell hit a grand slam and pitcher Shane Reynolds homered as Houston won at San Diego.

Bagwell's slam came during a six-run sixth inning as the Astros broke away from a 3-3 tie. The homer came against Kevin Walker, who made his major league debut.

Rockies 6, Cardinals 2

Jeff Cirillo, Scott Servais and Mike Lansing hit home runs off Rick Ankiel, leading Colorado over St. Louis at Coors Field.

Mark McGwire did not play for the Cardinals. He was examined for lingering back pain by team physician Dr. George Paletta, and no new disc injury was discovered.

McGwire will rest and receive treatment in St. Louis. He will be re-evaluated Monday to determine his status.

Expos 4, Phillies 0

Dustin Hermanson pitched his second career shutout and Vladimir Guerrero hit his fifth home run as Montreal won at Veterans Stadium.

Hermanson (1-1) gave up six hits in his first shutout since July 15, 1997, against Florida.

Philadelphia's Chris Brock struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings, but gave up solo home runs to Guerrero, Mike Mordecai and Rondell White.

Braves 6, Brewers 3

Atlanta ended a three-game losing streak, beating Milwaukee behind Tom Glavine at County Stadium.

Glavine (2-0) pitched into the ninth inning, striking out seven. Javy Lopez homered for the Braves.

Marlins 9, Cubs 4

Danny Bautista hit a three-run homer and Alex Gonzalez had a two-run drive to lift Florida over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

Sammy Sosa homered for Cubs, who were coming off a three-game sweep of Atlanta.