Pedro Martinez could be joining the Mets just in time to make a final pennant push. John Maine has been the ace that has helped keep New York in the race.
Carlos Delgado hit a three-run homer and Maine handcuffed the Braves over seven innings Friday night, and the NL East-leading Mets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory at Atlanta.
The Mets, who had lost four straight to division rival Philadelphia, remained two games ahead in the East after the Phillies beat Florida 9-2. The Braves are 5 1/2 games back in third.
The only run Maine (14-8) gave up came in the sixth, when he loaded the bases and Pete Orr scored on a wild pitch. Maine went on to strike out eight and walk three, and won for only the second time in his last six starts.
Mets manager Willie Randolph said Maine showed new maturity with his ability to pitch through the sixth-inning jam.
``He's getting better and better in crucial situations,'' Randolph said.
Added New York's David Wright: ``He was lights-out today.''
In other NL games, it was Colorado 7, Arizona 3 in 10 innings; San Diego 6, Los Angeles 4; Houston 6, Chicago 1; Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2; St. Louis 8, Cincinnati 5; and San Francisco 3, Washington 2.
Jose Reyes also homered for the Mets, who had losing months in June and July but finished 15-13 in August. They also won for only the third time in seven games in Atlanta this season.
``There's no panic,'' Wright said. ``Everybody is calm in here. ... People say this is a must-win game and all that. We're the ones in the driver's seat. We have to remember that.''
Braves pitcher Tim Hudson certainly does.
``Every game against everybody is huge for us,'' he said. ``We've got to start playing better. We've got to start playing with a little more passion.''
Maine's strong outing came after Martinez threw well in a bullpen session before the game. Martinez had surgery Oct. 5 to repair a torn rotator cuff and hasn't pitched in the major leagues in almost a year, but he may start Monday in Cincinnati.
Hudson (15-7) was 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his first two starts against New York this season, but surrendered six hits and four runs in six innings. He had allowed only five homers in his first 28 starts before giving up the homers to Delgado and Reyes.
Hudson recorded two outs before finding trouble in the fourth when Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou reached on singles. Delgado crushed a pitch over the middle of the plate for a homer to center, his 20th of the season, to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
``The cutter to Delgado stayed pretty straight,'' Hudson said.
Delgado's response when told of Hudson's comment: ``Why does every time I hit a home run it have to be a cutter that doesn't cut?''
Hudson again had two outs in the fifth before Reyes lined a homer about 15 rows deep in the right-field seats. The Mets went on to score three more runs in the ninth.
Phillies 9, Marlins 2
Kyle Kendrick (8-3) took a fastball off his right arm trying to bunt in the second inning, but he still pitched seven innings and helped visiting Philadelphia extend its winning streak to a season-best six games.
Chase Utley drove in three runs and reached base four times as Sergio Mitre (5-8) gave up seven hits and six runs in 3 1-3 innings.
Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 3, 10 innings
Cory Sullivan hit a two-run single in the eighth inning, then scored the go-ahead run on a 10th-inning error as Colorado dropped host Arizona a percentage point out of first place in the NL West.
Sullivan tripled off Tony Pena (5-3) leading off the 10th. Kazuo Matsui followed with a grounder back to the mound, but Pena threw the ball wildly to first, allowing Sullivan to score. Atkins added a sacrifice fly, and Brad Hawpe hit a two-run single.
Matt Herges (3-0) got the win as five Colorado pitchers combined on a three-hitter.
Padres 6, Dodgers 4
At San Diego, Josh Bard singled in the go-ahead run in the sixth and the division-leading Padres had to get past five strong innings by former teammate David Wells to beat the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez was hit by a pitch from Rudy Seanez (6-3), advanced on Kevin Kouzmanoff's single and scored on Bard's single. Milton Bradley hit an RBI double in the seventh and scored.
Doug Brocail (5-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 36th save in 41 chances.
Astros 6, Cubs 1
Hunter Pence homered twice and had a career-high five RBIs, Wandy Rodriguez pitched six shutout innings and visiting Houston cut Chicago's lead in the NL Central to 1 1/2 games over Milwaukee.
Pence's first career multihomer game featured a three-run shot in the fourth off Sean Marshall (7-7) and two-run drive in the sixth. The homers gave the standout rookie 14 for the season, while helping Rodriguez (8-12) win for the first time since July 26.
Brewers 3, Pirates 2
At Milwaukee, Yovani Gallardo (6-4) pitched seven innings and hit his second homer of the season, before Derrick Turnbow pitched a scoreless eighth and Francisco Cordero earned his 38th save in 44 chances to complete the six-hitter.
Tony Armas (2-5) gave up three runs and four hits in six innings for the Pirates.
Cardinals 8, Reds 5
At St. Louis, Rick Ankiel hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, and Yadier Molina's two-run homer helped Tony La Russa pass Red Schoendienst as the winningest manager in Cardinals history.
Randy Flores (2-0) allowed one hit and a walk in two innings, as the Cardinals' bullpen allowed only two hits in eight scoreless innings. Gary Majewski took the loss (0-2).
Giants 3, Nationals 2
At Washington, Kevin Correia (3-6) had his longest outing as a starter in more than two years, and Rajai Davis' broken-bat double capped a three-run second inning against Giants starter Tim Redding (3-5).

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