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PADRES ENJOYING SUCCESSFUL TURNAROUND

After Memorial Day, the first big checkpoint of the season, the San Diego Padres have a five-game lead in the NL West.

San Diego, last in 1995 with a 47-70 record, won for the fifth time in six games when it beat the Montreal Expos 4-3 Monday night. Joey Hamilton pitched eighth strong innings and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth."But there's still lots of baseball left," cautioned Padres manager Bruce Bochy.

San Diego has been in first for 55 days, the Padres' longest run at the top since 1985, the year following their last NL pennant.

"It's too early to get excited about things like that," Bochy said. "Now if this were September, maybe we'd be feeling something different."

With the score 3-3 at Olympic Stadium, Hamilton (8-3) opened the eighth with a single off Jeff Fassero (3-5) and scored on Wally Joyner's two-out double.

"It's been a lot like last year, when we lost a lot of close ones," Expos manager Felipe Alou said.

Montreal has lost four straight and 10 of 12.

"Fassero pitched well after giving up the three runs," Alou said, "but I don't remember having too many opportunities to win."

Hamilton allowed three runs and six hits. Trevor Hoffman finished for his 10th save.

Hamilton, who has a decision in all 11 starts, is second in NL victories behind Atlanta's John Smoltz, who's won 10 consecutive starts since losing his opener.

"Smoltz is up in a tree right now," Hamilton said, laughing. "I lost a couple on the road and they put me back a bit, but I'll catch him."

Braves 9, Cubs 1

Tom Glavine (6-3) won his fifth consecutive decision and Ryan Klesko hit his second career grand slam. Atlanta won for the eighth time in 11 games and is 21-6 since April 26.

Glavine, unbeaten in eight starts, allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one, increasing his career record against Chicago to 11-5.

Amaury Telemaco was pounded for eight runs - three earned - and seven hits in 32/3 innings. Chicago has lost five straight and eight of nine.

Marlins 6, Reds 2

Al Leiter (7-4) won for the first time since his no-hitter against Colorado on May 11, allowing both runs and three hits in eight innings at Joe Robbie Stadium.

Jeff Conine hit his ninth homer, his third in two days. He also singled in two runs in Florida's four-run first against John Smiley (4-5), who gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings.

Astros 5, Pirates 3

Craig Biggio tripled, doubled and homered in his first three at-bats as visiting Houston won its fourth straight and reached .500 (26-26) for the first time since May 10.

Darryl Kile (6-3) pitched a six-hitter and struck out 10 in his first complete game since a no-hitter against New York Mets on Sept. 8, 1993.

Zane Smith (2-3) lost his third consecutive decision, allowing five runs - three earned - and six hits in five innings. Pittsburgh (19-31) fell a season-low 12 games below .500 and has lost seven of eight and 16 of 20.

Rockies 5, Cardinals 2

Ellis Burks and Larry Walker homered in the first off Todd Stottlemyre (4-3) and Eric Young had three hits at Busch Stadium as Colorado won for the ninth time in 11 games.

Kevin Ritz (5-4) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. Bruce Ruffin pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

Stottlemyre gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings.