Now that Barry Bonds has hit No. 756, it's time for the pennant races to take center stage again.
In Colorado on Tuesday night, the Rockies solidified their place as a surprise contender in the NL West when slugger Todd Helton rediscovered his home run stroke.
In Arizona, a sloppy four-error performance cut the Diamondbacks' lead in the West to dwindle to a single game.
Helton struck out in his first two at-bats, and then hit two home runs in his final two times at the plate to lift the Rockies to an 11-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the Brewers' third straight loss.
``It was good to feel good at the plate,'' said Helton, who has 11 home runs this season. ``The thing I was most proud of wasn't the two home runs, but coming back after the terrible first two at-bats. I didn't hang my head and I battled.''
The Rockies won for the 18th time in their last 22 home games. With the win, they moved into a tie for third place in the NL West with Los Angeles, four games behind the Diamondbacks. San Diego is a game behind Arizona.
In San Francisco, Bonds drove a a 3-2 pitch from Mike Bacsik over the wall in right-center in the fifth inning to break a tie with Hank Aaron and take sole possession of baseball's most hallowed record. The Giants lost 8-6 to Washington.
Afterward, Bonds thanked his teammates, the fans, and his family, and balked at any mention that the steroid controversy has tinged the milestone.
``This record is not tainted. At all. Period. You guys can say whatever you want,'' he said.
In other NL games, it was: Philadelphia 11, Florida 1; Atlanta 7, New York 3; Cincinnati 4, Los Angeles 0; Houston 5, Chicago 2; and San Diego 4, St. Louis 0.
Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano (5-9) took the loss, his ninth straight. The Brewers have lost all 14 of his starts since he beat the Washington Nationals on May 7.
``I'm tired of the streak,'' Capuano said. ``It's not like I go out and try not to win over 14 starts. It was the same old story. I had five good innings and let them back into it.''
The Brewers remained a game ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central. Both the Brewers and Cubs have lost two in a row.
Helton went 3-for-5 with four RBIs. It was his 26th multihomer game and first since Sept. 2, 2005, at home against the Dodgers.
It was his first home run since July 18 at Pittsburgh. Helton had not had a game with more than one extra-base hit since June 5, at home against Houston.
``It's good for him, it's good for us,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ``I know he feels good about being able to get in the middle of things and mix it up.''
Jason Hirsh (5-7), went six innings, giving up three runs - two earned - and three hits in six innings to win for the first time since July 2. It was Hirsh's second start since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 2.
The Diamondbacks lost despite Justin Upton's terrific home debut. Upton fell a single shy of the cycle but it was nowhere near enough to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. Arizona lost 8-3.
Upton tripled in the second, homered in the fourth and doubled in the seventh. He grounded out to second to end the game.
``I'll tell you right now,'' Arizona's Orlando Hudson said. ``You might want to start rewriting the records and putting his name right below A-Rod and Griffey when they were 19.''
Hudson homered for Arizona, which lost for only the third time in 16 games. Micah Owings (5-6) gave up four runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Tom Gorzelanny, pitching for the first time since July 25, struck out a career-high nine in seven innings for the Pirates.
``Everything just kind of clicked,'' Gorzelanny said. ``My pitches were diving, I threw my change-up well and my two-seamer was moving. I was placing my fastball where I wanted it.''
Gorzelanny (10-6) allowed four hits, three of them by the 19-year-old Upton, brought up from Double-A Mobile last Thursday.
``It was really good to see our guy bounce back and pitch in the manner in which he did,'' Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. ``He was really good tonight.''
Braves 7, Mets 3
At New York, Jeff Francoeur hit a three-run homer and Matt Diaz added a solo shot to lead Atlanta to its seventh win in 10 games against the Mets this season.
Perez (10-8) had all three New York wins over Atlanta this season, but the Braves reached him for six runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Phillies 11, Marlins 1
At Philadelphia, Ryan Howard homered twice to back Jamie Moyer (10-8).
Florida's Rick VandenHurk (3-3) gave up six runs, five hits and walked five in 2 1-3 innings. He balked home a run in the third.
Reds 4, Dodgers 0
At Cincinnati, Bronson Arroyo (5-12) pitched into the seventh inning and combined with three relievers on the eight-hitter to help the Reds end their nine-game losing streak against Los Angeles.
The Dodgers lost their fifth in a row, their longest losing streak of the season, and have dropped 14 of their last 19 overall. Edwin Encarnacion doubled home two runs and Brandon Phillips hit a solo homer off left-hander Mark Hendrickson (4-6).
Astros 5, Cubs 2
At Houston, Craig Biggio drove in the go-ahead run in a four-run sixth inning for the Astros, sending Chicago to its second straight loss since Alfonso Soriano went on the disabled list.
Woody Williams (6-12) allowed one run and four hits in six innings, striking out seven. Sean Marshall (5-6) lost for the third time in his last four starts. He lasted 5 1-3 innings and gave up five runs and seven hits.
Padres 4, Cardinals 0
At St. Louis, Jake Peavy (12-5) extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings, and San Diego got its major league-leading 16th shutout of the season.
Josh Bard hit a go-ahead single in the seventh off Anthony Reyes (1-11).

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