Sammy Sosa homered off a TV camera in center field for his major league-leading 56th homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the Padres, 1-0, last night in San Diego.

Sosa's shot with two outs in the fourth came on the first pitch he saw from left-hander Sterling Hitchcock and went an estimated 431 feet. The camera sits on a platform that juts out from the top of the 17-foot permanent wall.

CARDINALS 9, MARLINS 3: Mark McGwire jumped back into the home run race and Garrett Stephenson posted another strong outing in St. Louis.

McGwire ended a drought of 25 at-bats without a homer when he hit his 52nd of the season in the fifth inning off Ryan Dempster. He passed Lou Gehrig to become the career leader at first base with 494.

McGwire remained four behind major league leader Sammy Sosa after a 459-foot drive off the scoreboard in left field for his first homer in eight games.

Stephenson (5-0) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run and seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA since being recalled up from Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 6.

BRAVES 8, REDS 7: Bret Boone hit a two-run homer and Brian Hunter added a three-run shot as Atlanta built a six-run lead and held on in Cincinnati.

By taking two of three games in the series, the Braves added to the best record in baseball (85-50), picked up their 12th win in 13 games, solidified their hold on the NL East and left the Reds once again wondering what in the world it will take to beat them.

Cincinnati is 1-8 against Atlanta this season and 5-24 over the last three years.

METS 9, ASTROS 5: Robin Ventura hit his 200th career homer and drove in four runs and Mike Piazza went 4 for 5 in Houston.

Octavio Dotel (6-1) limited Houston to four runs and five hits in five innings. The rookie right-hander is 6-0 in 11 starts since losing his major league debut.

GIANTS 5, PHILLIES 3: Jeff Kent's two-run homer in the 11th lifted San Francisco past visiting Philadelphia, which has lost a season-high six straight games.

Barry Bonds led off the 11th with a double into the right field corner and Kent followed with his 17th homer of the season off Wayne Gomes (4-4). Rick Rodriguez (2-0), who also was the winner Monday night, pitched one inning for the victory.

EXPOS 8, DIAMONDBACKS 1: In Phoenix, Dustin Hermanson came within two outs of his second career shutout.

Hermanson (6-12), who lives in Phoenix, brought a five-hitter into the ninth inning before allowing Jay Bell's 32nd homer with one out. Luis Gonzalez followed with a double to chase Hermanson, who struck out three and walked none.

PIRATES 9, ROCKIES 8: Brant Brown homered and drove in four runs, Warren Morris had three RBI and Pittsburgh scored three runs in the ninth inning to sweep the three-game series in Denver.

Scott Sauerbeck (3-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory and Brad Clontz got the final out for his first save of the year in his second opportunity.

BREWERS 5, DODGERS 4: Cal Eldred, suffering through a horrendous season, pitched six strong innings in Los Angeles.

Eldred (2-7), who brought an 8.07 ERA and a six-game losing streak into the game, took a four-hit shutout into the seventh, but left after allowing two walks and a single by pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino.

Mark Grudzielanek greeted reliever Rocky Coppinger with a triple, and later scored on a groundout by Eric Karros to make it 5-4.

EXPOS 8, DIAMONDBACKS 1: Austin Hermanson came within two outs of his second career shutout as Montreal won in Phoenix. Hermanson (6-12), who lives in Phoenix, brought a five-hitter into the ninth before allowing Jay Bell's 32nd homer with one out.