NEW YORK -- Robin Ventura went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs as the Mets gave New York a pennant race to cheer about with a 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
The surging Mets have won five straight since baseball resumed following the terrorist attacks that devastated New York and the nation to move within 3 1/2 games of Atlanta in the NL East.
The Mets took advantage of an injury to Greg Maddux and a strong start by Steve Trachsel (10-12) to beat the Braves for the second straight night.
Maddux left the game after two batters with a hyperextended right elbow, but he is not expected to miss a start.
Atlanta, in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1990, has lost five of six since baseball's return and remains a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the division.
Armando Benitez got his 41st save in 43 chances.
Odalis Perez (6-8) took the loss.
Marlins 3, Phillies 2
PHILADELPHIA -- Derrek Lee broke an eighth-inning tie with a two-out double off Jose Santiago (2-4), leading Florida over Philadelphia.
The Phillies had won six of seven. The Marlins, 3-12 against the Phillies this season, had lost eight straight at Veterans Stadium since last Sept. 16.
Matt Clement (9-10) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Antonio Alfonseca finished with a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 32 chances.
Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5
LOS ANGELES -- Adrian Beltre's two-run single capped a three-run rally in the 11th inning and gave Los Angeles a huge victory over Arizona.
Randy Johnson outpitched Kevin Brown in a marquee matchup and was three outs from his 20th victory, but the Dodgers came from behind twice in the late innings to win for just the second time in eight games.
Astros 8, Cubs 4
HOUSTON -- Orlando Merced hit a three-run triple off Kevin Tapani (9-13), and Jeff Bagwell had a two-run double in a six-run fifth inning as Houston rallied to beat Chicago.
The comeback kept the Astros 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central and gave Shane Reynolds (12-10) his eighth victory in his last nine starts against the Cubs.
Chicago's three-game winning streak came to an end, and the Cubs dropped 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the wild card race.
Cardinals 4, Pirates 1
PITTSBURGH -- Rookie Albert Pujols drove in his 15th run of the week as St. Louis extended its winning streak to nine games by beating Pittsburgh.
Bud Smith (6-2) won his third straight decision, pitching five innings and allowing four hits, including a solo homer by Craig Wilson -- the only run Smith has allowed in 21 innings.
St. Louis is on its longest winning streak since taking 11 in a row from Aug. 9-19. The Pirates have lost seven straight, matching their season high.
Expos 3, Rockies 1
MONTREAL -- Brian Schneider hit his first career home run to back six solid innings from Masato Yoshii (4-5), lifting Montreal over Colorado.
Rockies starter Scott Elarton retired his first 14 batters before walking Lee Stevens with two outs in the fifth.
Reds 3, Brewers 1
MILWAUKEE -- Adam Dunn became the first Cincinnati rookie to hit 15 homers since Gary Redus in 1982, helping the Reds beat Milwaukee.
Dmitri Young and Todd Walker also hit solo shots for Cincinnati, which sent the Brewers to their seventh straight loss.
Jose Acevedo (5-6) allowed one run and five hits in six innings. Danny Graves pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 34 chances.
Dunn connected off Ruben Quevedo (4-4) in the first inning to put Cincinnati ahead. The only Reds rookies with more homers were Frank Robinson (38) in 1956, Bernie Carbo (21) in 1970, Vada Pinson (20) 1958, and Redus (17). Johnny Bench hit 15 in 1968.
Padres 4, Giants 3
SAN DIEGO -- Tony Gwynn hit a tying, two-run single in the seventh inning, and pinch-hitter Mike Darr homered off Brian Boehringer (0-3) in the 10th for San Diego.
San Francisco's Barry Bonds remained on hold with 64 homers, but he doubled and scored.
Calvin Murray homered leading off the eighth to tie it at 3, and Rich Aurilia hit his career-high 34th for the Giants, who led 2-0 in the seventh but blew a chance to pull within one game of first-place Arizona in the NL West.
Gwynn came through as a pinch-hitter on the second night of ''Thanks Tony Weekend,'' which originally was to have been the last home series of his 20-year career. Due to six postponements following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, he'll now end his storied career at home on Oct. 7.
Trevor Hoffman (3-3) pitched two innings for the win.
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