David Veres's wild pitch allowed Mike Piazza to score from third with the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and the New York Mets beat the Colorado Rockies, 6-5, last night in Denver for their eighth win in nine games.
With the score tied at 5, John Olerud doubled off Veres (3-8) leading off the ninth, Piazza walked and Robin Ventura singled to right. Larry Walker threw out pinch runner Melvin Mora at the plate, but Piazza scored on the wild pitch with one out and Darryl Hamilton batting.
"I stink and I don't understand why," said Veres, who has lost consecutive games in the ninth inning. "I've walked six guys in the last two games and I haven't been this wild in my career."
Rickey Henderson hit a two-run homer for the Mets (89-56), who reduced Atlanta's lead to one game in the NL East. The Mets also remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Cincinnati in the wild-card race.
"Before the season started we said we'll be better than we were last year," Mets Manager Bobby Valentine said. "If you just go on winning record, I guess this means we already are better than last year. But I don't think it means that much right now in the scheme of things."
Turk Wendell (4-4) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. Armando Benitez got three outs for his 20th save in 25 chances.
PADRES 3, BRAVES 0: Woody Williams took a shutout into the ninth inning and also hit an RBI single as San Diego gave visiting Atlanta its third straight loss.
The Padres, who beat the Braves for the NL pennant last year, were eliminated from contention on Sunday.
Williams (9-12) shut down the Braves in just his second career start against them. He yielded a double and a single to Ryan Klesko and two singles to Gerald Williams in the first eight innings. Williams struck out six and walked two.
He left after walking Keith Lockhart and giving up a single to Williams to start the ninth. Trevor Hoffman got three outs for his 37th save in 40 chances.
ASTROS 13, PHILLIES 2: It only seems that an Astros pitcher gets his 20th win every night.
Mike Hampton joined teammate Jose Lima in the 20-win club, and Houston defeated visiting Philadelphia to set a club record by winning its 11th straight game.
Hampton (20-3) won his 11th consecutive decision since a June 24 loss to Cincinnati. He gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings with six strikeouts.
"I just want it to continue another two months," said Hampton (20-3). "I think it's my best year, it's been the most consistent year and that's what you shoot for -- consistency."
Houston maintained a three-game lead over second-place Cincinnati, which also won.
Lima (20-7) got his 20th win Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. The last time teammates won 20 in the same season was in 1993, when Atlanta's Greg Maddux (20-10) and Tom Glavine (22-6) did it along with San Francisco's John Burkett (22-7) and Bill Swift (21-8).
Houston, which previously had six 10-game winning streaks, sent the Phillies to their 10th straight loss.
REDS 7, MARLINS 4: Greg Vaughn is ready for the stretch run.
Vaughn's homer started a three-run sixth inning that gave host Cincinnati its seventh straight win. Cincinnati has hit 31 home runs in 11 games.
"I got a pitch to drive -- a slider that stayed over the plate a little bit," Vaughn said. "It brought us within one and got the momentum back for us a little bit.
"You know that Houston is going to be there right until the end," Vaughn said. "All we can worry about is the Cincinnati Reds and everything else will fall into place."
DIAMONDBACKS 5, PIRATES 1: In Phoenix, Hanley Frias hit his first home run of the season and Erubiel Durazo hit a three-run shot into the Bank One Ballpark swimming pool.
Arizona won its eighth in nine games and reduced its magic number for clinching the NL West title to 11. Any combination of 11 Arizona victories or San Francisco losses will make the Diamondbacks the first second-year team to make the playoffs.
BREWERS 4, CARDINALS 3: In St. Louis, rookie Kevin Barker hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth inning for Milwaukee.
The Cardinals' Mark McGwire strained his left groin and left after 4 1/2 innings. McGwire, second in the major leagues with 55 homers, grounded out in the first and walked in the third. He was listed as day-to-day.
DODGERS 12, EXPOS 4: Raul Mondesi went 4 for 5 and host Los Angeles got home runs from Gary Sheffield, Todd Hundley and Devon White against Montreal.