The batters on the Cincinnati Reds have turned the NL Central into a runaway, and the pitchers on the Atlanta Braves have done the same in the NL East.
The only race left for each team is for the league's best record.The Braves' 3-1 victory Sunday over the Chicago Cubs was their seventh straight and improved their record to 72-39, two games ahead of the Reds. Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh 10-1, completing a three-game sweep in which the Reds outscored the Pirates 36-10.
"That's the best team we've seen all year," Pittsburgh's Jay Bell said. "If they keep up this pace, they're going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs."
Atlanta increased its lead in the East to 141/2 games by sweeping Chicago behind the pitching of aces John Smoltz, three-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Glavine (13-5) was the star Sunday, allowing five hits in 7 2-3 innings. However, he jarred his back when he slipped on the mound delivering a pitch in the eighth inning and was removed as a precautionary measure.
Reds 10, Pirates 1
While the Cincinnati hitters battered host Pittsburgh and increased the lead in the Central to 131/2 games, Reds starter Pete Schourek joined in. In addition to matching Maddux as the NL's only 14-game winners, Schourek (14-7) had three of the team's 16 hits.
In the three games, the Reds had 54 hits and batted .419, and Reggie Sanders drove in 10 runs.
"When you go from top to bottom in our lineup, and what are you looking for?" Schourek said. "Speed? Power? Knowledge of the game? Starting pitching? Bullpen? Bench? We've got it all."
Rookie Esteban Loaiza (8-6) took his first loss in eight starts since July 19.
Expos 1, Giants 0
Kirk Rueter, who began his major league career two years ago with 10 straight wins, threw a one-hitter in Montreal in his first start after 31/2 months in the minors.
Rueter (1-2) allowed only a third-inning single to Kirt Manwaring in pitching his first major league shutout.
The game lasted 1 hour, 54 minutes, second-shortest in the majors this season.
The Expos scored an unearned run off Mark Leiter (9-8) in the fifth on Robby Thompson's throwing error.
Cardinals 10, Rockies 5
St. Louis battered host Colorado for 18 hits in completing a three-game sweep.
John Mabry homered and doubled twice, and David Bell added four hits and three RBIs as the Cardinals extended their winning streak to a season-best four games.
Brian Barber (2-0) won in his third career start, and Armando Reynoso (5-6) allowed seven runs in 4 2-3 innings.
Colorado's Dante Bichette hit his NL-leading 32nd home run, setting team records for homers and RBIs in a season.
Marlins 10, Astros 2
Houston tied a club record with its 10th consecutive defeat, and Florida extended a franchise record with its 13th consecutive home victory.
The Astros have lost 17 of 20. They lost 10 straight four other times, most recently in May 1974.
Terry Pendleton drove in five runs for the Marlins, who scored six runs in the bottom of the first off Doug Drabek (7-7).
Pat Rapp (9-7) won his fourth start in a row.
Padres 4, Mets 1
At New York, Fernando Valenzuela earned his first victory as a starter in 21/2 months and Steve Finley hit a two-run homer as San Diego ended a four-game losing streak.
Valenzuela (4-3) allowed one run in six innings to help stop the Mets' three-game winning streak. His last win as a starter came June 6 against Philadelphia, a span of four starts.
Rookie reliever Ron Villone earned his first major league save.
Reid Cornelius (1-4), who started in place of injured Bobby Jones, allowed four runs in seven innings.
Dodgers 9, Phillies 1
Mike Piazza hit a grand slam, a two-run homer and two doubles, driving in a career-high seven runs, as Los Angeles snapped Philadelphia's four-game winning streak.
Kevin Tapani (2-1), making his sixth start since being acquired from Minnesota on July 31, allowed five hits, tied his season high with nine strikeouts and did not walk a batter in eight innings. The only run he allowed was Jim Eisenreich's sixth-inning homer.
Piazza's 4-for-4 night moved him into a tie with Seattle's Edgar Martinez for the major league batting lead at .367.
Antonio Osuna pitched the ninth for the Dodgers, who avoided a four-game sweep with the victory. Tommy Greene (0-4) was the loser.