Braves Alone Atop National League East

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Monday, April 9, 2007; 4:15 AM

-- It's been a year since the Atlanta Braves were alone atop the National League East.

Now, after taking a weekend series from the New York Mets, Atlanta is on top of the division. The Mets ended the Braves' run of 14 straight division titles last season

"Obviously it's huge for us, just from a momentum standpoint," said Jeff Francoeur, who had the go-ahead RBI double in Atlanta's 3-2 win on Sunday. "I think we can compete with the Mets now throughout the year."

The Mets won their first four games before dropping the last two to Atlanta. New York's bullpen, which hadn't allowed a run in 13 innings, couldn't hold a 2-1 lead Sunday.

The win left the Braves (5-1) alone atop the NL East for the first time since April 5, 2006. The Mets moved back into first the next day and led the rest of the season.

"The Braves always come to play tough," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "But I'm not concentrating much on the Braves. We have to worry about ourselves. They always play right. You don't waste much time worrying about them."

In other NL games, it was: St. Louis 10, Houston 1; Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 3; Arizona 3, Washington 1; Milwaukee 9, Chicago 4; San Diego 2, Colorado 1 in 10 innings; Los Angeles 10, San Francisco 4; and Florida 6, Philadelphia 4.

At Atlanta, Chipper Jones led off the eighth inning with a double to center off Aaron Heilman (0-1) and scored one out later on Brian McCann's double to tie the game. Francoeur followed with a hit to right to drive in pinch-runner Brayan Pena.

Heilman said his pitch to Francoeur "certainly was not a quality pitch. ... It was up a little bit."

Before the game, Atlanta learned left-hander Mike Hampton, expected to join the rotation as early as May, suffered a setback in his comeback from elbow surgery when he felt pain in the left elbow while throwing in the bullpen. Hampton will be examined in New York on Monday.

"It's almost a double-edged sword," said Kyle Davies, who earned the win Sunday. "You want him to come back because you know he can help the team. And obviously you want to do well in his absence."

Cardinals 10, Astros 1

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