Ben Sheets struck out a franchise-record 18 batters -- the most in the majors in three years -- in leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Atlanta Braves yesterday.

"This place, with day games, hitters can't see the ball," Milwaukee catcher Chad Moeller said. "I was proof of that, also."

Moeller struck out four times, but it was all the strike threes that landed in his mitt that made this game so memorable.

"He woke up today with phenomenal stuff," Milwaukee Manager Ned Yost said of Sheets.

It was the most strikeouts by a big leaguer since Arizona's Randy Johnson tied a major league record with 20 on May 8, 2001, against Cincinnati.

"I'm not a big strikeout guy, so this is all new to me. It's pretty cool, though," said Sheets (4-2), whose previous career high was 10 strikeouts against Houston on April 10 and May 5 against Cincinnati.

The previous franchise mark of 14 was set by Moose Haas on April 12, 1978, against the New York Yankees.

"I've seen some pretty good outings, but that's definitely got to be the most impressive," teammate Geoff Jenkins said. "He was just power all day, using his fastball, curveball, just mixing pitches. It seemed like he didn't throw a ball all day."

* METS 3, ASTROS 2: Mike Piazza spoiled Roger Clemens's bid for his eighth straight win with a tying homer in the ninth off Octavio Dotel, and Jason Phillips's 13th-inning home run won it for visiting New York.

After Clemens struck out 10 in seven shutout innings, the Mets rallied in the ninth against Dotel. Eric Valent led off with a double, and two outs later, Piazza hit a 1-2 pitch over the right-center fence to tie it.

That spoiled Clemens's chance to become the first pitcher since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1997 to win his first eight starts of the season. Dotel blew his second save in the last three outings.

* EXPOS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 1: Livan Hernandez pitched a six-hitter for his second complete game in 10 days, helping visiting Montreal complete its first series sweep of the season.

Hernandez (3-2) walked two and struck out seven for his 33rd complete game as the Expos tied a season high with their third win in a row.

* CUBS 4, PADRES 2: Jose Macias hit a tiebreaking homer off David Wells, and Michael Barrett also connected in visiting Chicago's three-game sweep.

The Cubs won their fourth straight game, moved into a tie with Houston atop the NL Central and outhit the Padres in their new ballpark. The Cubs hit seven homers in three games at Petco Park, including impressive shots by Sammy Sosa on Friday and Saturday. Sosa sat out yesterday.

* MARLINS 3, CARDINALS 2: Brad Penny worked six solid innings, and Florida got a pair of big two-out hits, avoiding a three-game sweep on the road.

The Marlins scored only six runs in the series. But Juan Pierre's two-run double in the fourth gave the team its only multirun inning, and Mike Mordecai got his first RBI of the year for Florida, which completed a 3-3 road trip.

* PIRATES 8, GIANTS 1: Rob Mackowiak homered twice and drove in four runs in Pittsburgh's first three-game sweep in San Francisco since 1996.

* REDS 6, DODGERS 3: Adam Dunn had his first three-hit game of the season, including a two-run double, and visiting Cincinnati completed its first three-game sweep of the year.

* ROCKIES 7, PHILLIES 6: In Denver, Jeromy Burnitz drove in the tiebreaking run with an infield single in the eighth inning and had four RBI, helping Colorado end a three-game losing streak.

Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets, above, strikes out 18 hitters to break the franchise record held by Moose Haas. Sheets's previous high in strikeouts was 10.