Walker puts Cubs in record book

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The Independent Online
Baseball

As the sport remembered Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of the day he broke the major league colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs were trying to forget their own unfortunate entry in the record books on Tuesday.

Larry Walker was the inspiration for Colorado Rockies when he contributed two home runs and four RBI to lead his side to a 10-7 victory over Chicago, securing the Cubs' place in history for the worst opening performance in modern National League history with 11 consecutive defeats.

The Cubs are still 10 defeats shy of the major league mark for the worst start to a season of 21 losses set by Baltimore Orioles, of the American League, in 1988. "I'm confident we're going to turn this around," Jim Riggleman, the Cubs manager, said.

Mark Thompson, the Colorado pitcher, raised his record to 3-0, despite allowing six runs and eight hits. He also added his first career homer - a solo shot in a three-run fifth inning that boosted Colorado's lead to 9-5.

Walker's second four-hit game of the season raised his batting average to a leading .522. He also leads the majors with nine home runs and 22 RBI. "This is certainly the best start I've ever had in my career," Walker said.

In New York, Armando Reynoso pitched five scoreless innings and Lance Johnson added four RBI as the Mets broke a four-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Toby Borland pitched the final four innings for his first save as the Mets gained their first shut- out of the season.

The game was halted after the fifth inning as baseball paid tribute to Robinson. In the major league park closest to the former Ebbets Field, where Robinson led Brooklyn to six pennants in 10 years, President Bill Clinton and Robinson's widow, Rachel, took part in a ceremony at second base - the position Robinson played for most of his career.

In an unprecedented move, Bud Selig, the acting commissioner, announced that Robinson's uniform number, No 42, would be retired throughout the major leagues.

In Atlanta, John Smoltz pitched a six-hitter for his 10th career shut- out, while Jeff Blauser tripled home a run in the second and Ryan Klesko had a run-scoring triple in the third and scored on an infield hit by Chipper Jones as the Braves beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-0. Smoltz walked two and struck out seven as he outplayed his former team-mate Kent Mercker to hand Atlanta their fourth consecutive win, their 10th victory in 11 games.

In Florida, Brady Raggio allowed two runs and five hits over 51/3 innings to win his major league debut as the St Louis Cardinals moved to a 9-3 victory over the Marlins. St Louis have now won of four of the last six matches after starting the season with six straight defeats.

Jeff Kent continued his run of hits with a homer and three RBI and Marvin Benard's two-out RBI single capped a four-run sixth inning as the San Francisco Giants rallied for an 8-4 win in Philadelphia over the Phillies.

Mark Lewis contributed two runs and J T Snow added a two-run single for San Francisco, who have nine victories against three defeats.

The Pittsburgh Pirates stole a 3-2 home victory over the San Diego Padres when Sterling Hitchcock hit Tony Womack with a pitch at the end of the ninth inning to force home Jose Guillen for the winning run.

In Houston, Pedro Martinez returned from an eight-game suspension to pitch six strong innings and Henry Rodriguez hit a three-run homer to lead the Montreal Expos to a 7-5 win over the Astros.

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