John Smoltz knew the Atlanta Braves had the hit-and-run on when Marcus Giles took a big lead and broke from second base in the sixth inning.
Staying out of a double play was important, so Smoltz figured his teammate would reach third easily when New York pitcher Pedro Martinez fielded Julio Franco's soft grounder.
Instead, Smoltz was ecstatic to see Giles keep running and score standing up, the final run in the Braves' 3-1 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night in Atlanta.
"That's a huge run for a pitcher," Smoltz said of the game's final run. "When you're battling, that run makes you feel like — I wish hitters could appreciate what a pitcher feels like because that run's huge. He had it all the way. It was such a great play."
Smoltz outpitched Martinez, and Andruw Jones drove in two runs as Atlanta got its second straight win over the Mets.
Facing Martinez for the third time this season, Smoltz (14-6) won his second straight in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners. Smoltz allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings, walking one and striking out two.
Atlanta, which began the night with a six-game lead in the NL East, improved to 11-4 against the Mets, who fell to 20-50 at Turner Field. The Braves have won five of six overall.
ASTROS 2, PHILLIES 1: At Philadelphia, pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett stole two bases, then scored the decisive run on Jason Lane's single in the ninth inning for the NL wild-card leading Astros. The Astros moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia in the wild-card race with their 11th consecutive win over the Phillies.
MARLINS 4, NATIONALS 2: At Washington, Florida's Luis Castillo went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs, and Ismael Valdez won for the first time in more than a month. In a game between teams fighting for the NL wild card, the Marlins scored three runs in the third inning against Darrell Rasner, making his major league debut.
CUBS 5, CARDINALS 2: At St. Louis, Chicago's Glendon Rusch was perfect for six innings and pitched into the eighth. Derrek Lee hit his 40th homer on his 30th birthday and drove in two runs for the Cubs, who knocked out Matt Morris in the fifth and won for the fourth time in five games.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, PIRATES 2 (12): At Pittsburgh, rookie catcher Ryan Doumit's errant throw on a rundown play in the 12th inning got Pete Mackanin's managerial run in Pittsburgh off to a losing start. The Pirates dropped their fifth in a row, 10th in 11 games and 15th in 19 — a slide that caused manager Lloyd McClendon to be fired earlier in the day.
REDS 2, BREWERS 1 (10): At Cincinnati, Javier Valentin's RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Reds the victory. Adam Dunn singled with one out off Jorge De La Rosa (2-2) and moved to third on Sean Casey's single. Valentin followed with a line-drive over drawn-in center fielder Brady Clark.
ROCKIES 6, PADRES 5: At San Diego, Colorado's Todd Helton reached base five times and scored twice, and San Diego catcher Miguel Olivo committed two critical errors as the Padres (68-69) again dropped below .500.
DODGERS 4, GIANTS 2 (10): At Los Angeles, Jeff Kent hit a two-run homer with two out in the 10th inning, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers snap a four-game losing skid. The loss ended the Giants' six-game winning streak.