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Mets move into first place

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Mets 4, Astros 2

The last time the New York Mets were atop the NL East, they were 2-1 and still recovering from jet lag following their season-opening trip to Japan.

"Being in first place is something," Edgardo Alfonzo said. "Staying there the rest of the season is something else."

Alfonzo's three-run, first-inning homer helped the Mets beat the Houston Astros 4-2 Monday night and moved New York into a tie with Atlanta, which had held first exclusively since after games of April 18.

New York has gone a major league-best 30-15 since the All-Star break to move into first this late in the season for the first time since Sept. 3, 1990.

"At the end of the season, it means something to be in first place," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "But the last time I checked, we aren't even in the final month of the season yet."

Atlanta (78-53) lost 6-3 to Cincinnati. The Braves are 13-13 in August and have lost four of five.

"We are capable of playing better," Greg Maddux said. "I think we all know that."

REDS 6, BRAVES 3: At Turner Field, Cincinnati stunned Maddux (14-8) by scoring five runs in the first, and Ron Villone (9-7), starting because Scott Williamson had a sore back, pitched a five-hitter for the first complete game of his eight-year professional career.

GIANTS 5, PIRATES 4: Russ Davis led off the ninth with his second pinch-hit homer of the season, a drive off Scott Sauerbeck (5-2), and visiting San Francisco extended its NL West lead to 3 1/2 games, matching its season high.

EXPOS 9, DIAMONDBACKS 5: Orlando Cabrera and Michael Barrett each had three hits and three RBIs as Montreal overcame a 3-2 deficit in the seventh, sending visiting Arizona to its sixth loss in seven games.

CARDINALS 5, MARLINS 2: Will Clark's RBI triple off Armando Almanza (4-2) tied the score in a four-run eighth, and Craig Paquette's RBI single put visiting St. Louis ahead.

PHILLIES 3, ROCKIES 2: At Philadelphia, Bobby Abreu hit his third homer in two games, and Colorado's Todd Helton got three hits to raise his average three points to .397.

DODGERS 5, BREWERS 3: Kevin Brown (12-5) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings and the visiting Dodgers had a five-run first against Jeff D'Amico (10-5), who had won eight straight decisions.

PADRES 8, CUBS 2: Phil Nevin hit a three-run homer in the eighth and a three-run double in the ninth at Wrigley Field, tying his career high of six RBIs.