With the game on the line, Chipper Jones welcomes the challenge.
Jones hit a solo home run in the 10th inning last night to give the Atlanta Braves a 6-5 victory over the visiting Montreal Expos, expanding their NL East lead to two games over New York.
With one out in the 10th, Jones hit a 1-1 pitch from Steve Kline (6-4) over the center field fence for his 41st homer. The Braves had lost four of their last five.
"Those are situations you like to be in -- you like to win the game with one swing of the bat," said Jones, Atlanta's No. 3 hitter. "I hit in the middle of the lineup. I'm supposed to get those hits, drive in runs, hit home runs. You can't be afraid to fail."
Jones has been Atlanta's biggest threat of late. His two RBI gave him 98 on the season and his homers are a career high. The switch-hitter, who hit his 13th home run right-handed this season, had only 12 in 678 career at-bats before this season.
"He's having an MVP season," Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox said. "Who else but Chipper is going to hit it out in the 10th?"
Montreal Manager Felipe Alou agreed. "To me, he is the league's MVP. He's a complete guy. He has power and he can steal bases. If I picked, I would pick him, but my opinion doesn't count," he said.
The Braves, outhit 12-5, gained a game on the Mets, who lost 8-5 to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves and Mets play six of their final 14 games against each other.
Mike Remlinger (9-1) picked up the win -- Atlanta's major league-leading 28th in its last at-bat -- with a scoreless 10th.
Montreal third baseman Michael Barrett, whose error led to two unearned runs earlier, sent the game into extra innings with his two-out solo homer in the ninth inning off John Rocker. It was Rocker's seventh blown save in 40 chances.
PHILLIES 8, METS 5: In New York, rookie Randy Wolf snapped an eight-game losing streak and struck out a career-high 11. The Mets remained three games ahead of Cincinnati in the wild-card race.
Philadelphia won for only the third time in 21 games. The Phillies have won two in a row since snapping an 11-game losing streak Wednesday in Houston.
Wolf (6-8), who had a 5-0 record prior to his losing streak, allowed two runs on three hits in six innings. He earned his first win since July 17 in Boston. The left-hander retired the first nine batters, including striking out the side in the first and third innings, before walking Rickey Henderson leading off the fourth.
CARDINALS 11, ASTROS 8: Mark McGwire's grand slam was the first of three consecutive home runs for St. Louis in a nine-run fourth inning as the host Cardinals spoiled Jose Lima's bid for a 21st victory. McGwire's towering shot to left-center was his 56th of the season and 513th of his career, moving him past Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews into 11th place on the career list.
CUBS 6, BREWERS 5: For the second day in a row, Sammy Sosa got a game-winning RBI instead of his 60th homer. His sacrifice fly to left field gave host Chicago the victory over Milwaukee in 10 innings. He had a game-winning two-run double in the ninth inning on Thursday in Cincinnati. Sosa, who finished 0 for 3 today, has gone seven games without a home run, his longest power outage since a seven-game stretch in early July.
MARLINS 10, DIAMONDBACKS 6: In Phoenix, Dave Berg had his fourth four-hit game of the season and visiting Florida snapped a seven-game losing streak. The loss, coupled with San Francisco's 4-2 victory at San Diego, sliced the Diamondbacks' lead over the Giants in the NL West to six games. Arizona's magic number stayed at 10.
ROCKIES 18, DODGERS 10: Dante Bichette hit his seventh career grand slam and a three-run homer for a career high seven RBI, and Todd Helton hit two homers for host Colorado. Bichette hit a grand slam in the fifth off Robinson Checo (1-1) and homered again in the eighth off Mike Maddux, giving him 31 homers this season. His seven RBI were one short of the team record by Andres Galarraga in 1996.
PIRATES 3, REDS 1: In Pittsburgh, Todd Ritchie, a former minor league free agent last winter, checked suddenly slumping Cincinnati on one run over eight innings. Reds starter Ron Villone's wildness and his own error on Abraham Nunez's suicide squeeze bunt helped the Pirates score three runs on only one hit in the fourth and send the Reds to their third loss in four games.
GIANTS 4, PADRES 2: Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent each hit two-run homers to lift visiting San Francisco to its sixth straight victory.