Braves Alone Atop National League East

Monday, April 9th 2007, 7:37 am
By: News On 6

It's been a year since the Atlanta Braves were alone atop the National League East.

Now, after taking a weekend series from the New York Mets, Atlanta is on top of the division. The Mets ended the Braves' run of 14 straight division titles last season

``Obviously it's huge for us, just from a momentum standpoint,'' said Jeff Francoeur, who had the go-ahead RBI double in Atlanta's 3-2 win on Sunday. ``I think we can compete with the Mets now throughout the year.''

The Mets won their first four games before dropping the last two to Atlanta. New York's bullpen, which hadn't allowed a run in 13 innings, couldn't hold a 2-1 lead Sunday.

The win left the Braves (5-1) alone atop the NL East for the first time since April 5, 2006. The Mets moved back into first the next day and led the rest of the season.

``The Braves always come to play tough,'' Mets manager Willie Randolph said. ``But I'm not concentrating much on the Braves. We have to worry about ourselves. They always play right. You don't waste much time worrying about them.''

In other NL games, it was: St. Louis 10, Houston 1; Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 3; Arizona 3, Washington 1; Milwaukee 9, Chicago 4; San Diego 2, Colorado 1 in 10 innings; Los Angeles 10, San Francisco 4; and Florida 6, Philadelphia 4.

At Atlanta, Chipper Jones led off the eighth inning with a double to center off Aaron Heilman (0-1) and scored one out later on Brian McCann's double to tie the game. Francoeur followed with a hit to right to drive in pinch-runner Brayan Pena.

Heilman said his pitch to Francoeur ``certainly was not a quality pitch. ... It was up a little bit.''

Before the game, Atlanta learned left-hander Mike Hampton, expected to join the rotation as early as May, suffered a setback in his comeback from elbow surgery when he felt pain in the left elbow while throwing in the bullpen. Hampton will be examined in New York on Monday.

``It's almost a double-edged sword,'' said Kyle Davies, who earned the win Sunday. ``You want him to come back because you know he can help the team. And obviously you want to do well in his absence.''

Cardinals 10, Astros 1

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer to snap out of a 1-for-17 slump and Kip Wells outpitched college teammate Jason Jennings to lead visiting St. Louis.

Wells (1-1), a Houston native, allowed one hit and struck out seven in seven innings. He retired the last 16 batters he faced after hitting Chris Burke with a pitch in the second.

Jennings (0-1), who played with Wells at Baylor, gave up five hits, including Pujols' homer, and struck out five in five innings. Houston fell to 1-5, matching its worst start since 1990.

Pirates 6, Reds 3

Freddy Sanchez had two hits and an RBI in his first game since coming off the disabled list, and Zach Duke helped Pittsburgh avoid its first three-game sweep at Cincinnati since September 1998.

Jason Bay, Jack Wilson and Brad Eldred homered for the Pirates. Duke (1-0) pitched six shutout innings before giving up three runs and getting chased in the seventh without getting an out. Salomon Torres pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in four tries.

Eric Milton (0-1), who wasn't even on the active roster when he was booed during pregame introductions on opening day, fell to 16-24 with the Reds.

Diamondback 3, Nationals 1

Livan Hernandez added to his old team's woes, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and the visiting Arizona completed a four-game sweep.

Arizona outscored Washington 21-6 in the series, and the Nationals dropped to 1-6, the majors' worst record. It was the first time this season the Nationals didn't fall behind 4-0.

Hernandez (1-0), who threw the first pitch in Nationals history when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington in 2005, didn't allow a hit until Ryan Zimmerman's ground-rule double with two outs in the sixth. Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his third save.

Shawn Hill (0-2) took the loss.

Brewers 9, Cubs 4

Geoff Jenkins and Gabe Gross hit consecutive homers, and host Milwaukee got to old nemesis Wade Miller early.

Miller (0-1) came in with a 6-0 record at Miller Park and an 11-1 mark against the Brewers.

Chris Capuano (1-0) gave up four runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Padres 2, Rockies 1, 10 innings

Jose Cruz Jr. homered in the eighth inning to tie it and rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff singled with one out in the 10th to snap out of a 2-for-20 slump and give host San Diego a victory over Colorado.

Khalil Greene tripled to right-center off LaTroy Hawkins (0-2) with one out in the 10th before Kouzmanoff singled past diving first baseman Todd Helton to bring in the winning run.

Scott Linebrink (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th for the win.

Dodgers 10, Giants 4

Luis Gonzalez hit his first two home runs in Dodger Blue and Randy Wolf gave visiting Los Angeles a third straight standout pitching performance to pull off a three-game sweep of the archrival Giants.

Gonzalez connected for a solo shot and three-run homer in his 26th career multihomer game, and Wolf (1-1) outpitched $126 million fellow left-hander Barry Zito (0-2) in the Dodgers' eighth consecutive victory in San Francisco.

Marlins 6, Phillies 4

Backup catcher Matt Treanor hit an RBI triple, then scored the go-ahead run on a suicide squeeze to help rally host Florida.

Scott Olsen (2-0) needed 35 pitches to get through a three-run first inning but still earned his second win in two starts. Lee Gardner earned his first career save.

The struggling Phillies walked 11 times, but stranded 14 runners. Touted as title contenders in the NL East, Philadelphia is 1-5 for the third time in four seasons and the second year in a row.

Zack Segovia (0-1) took the loss in his major league debut.