Harry Spilman doubled in two of Houston's three runs in the eighth in Atlanta to help Joe Niekro win a pitching duel against his brother Phil.

"I don't mind facing Phil when the natural rotation of the two pitching staffs throws us against each other," Joe Niekro said. "But it's tough on him, it's tough on me, and it's tough on mom when it happens."

Trailing, 3-2, the Astros made a loser of Phil Niekro (14-4) when Dickie Thon and Ray Knight led off with singles and Spilman doubled. Spilman took third on the throw and scored on Jose Cruz's sacrifice fly.

Joe Niekro (15-10) allowed 10 hits in going the distance. It was his fifth triumph in nine major league starts against his brother.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the second. With one out, Jerry Royster singled and went to third on Bruce Benedict's ground out. Royster scored when first baseman Spilman's throw, trying to get Royster at third, went past Ray Knight.

Atlanta went ahead, 2-0, in the fourth on Chris Chambliss's 18th homer, but Houston tied in the fifth. Bill Doran and Luis Pujols singled and Doran scored when Joe Niekro reached on an error by his brother. Terry Puhl singled to score Pujols.

The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Claudell Washington's sacrifice fly.