Julio Franco became the oldest player in major league history to hit a grand slam, connecting in the first to lead the Braves past the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-4, last night in Atlanta.

Johnny Estrada finished a triple short of the cycle and drove in three runs for the Braves, who won for the third time in four games.

The 45-year-old Franco hit the first pitch he saw from Josh Hancock into the seats in right for his first slam since Sept. 1, 1996, when he was with Cleveland. That was part of a five-run first for Atlanta. Carlton Fisk held the previous record, homering with the bases loaded in 1991 at 43.

Franco is doing wondrous things at an age when most players are long retired. Earlier this season, he became the oldest position player to appear in a major league game since Minnie Minoso in 1980, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Minoso was 57 when he pinch-hit for the Chicago White Sox on Oct. 5, 1980.

Before Franco, the last non-pitcher to play at 45 was Fisk, who caught 25 games for the White Sox in 1993. Franco is the oldest player in the majors.

"Records don't mean anything to me," Franco said. "Nobody knows how long you're going to be on this Earth."

* CARDINALS 4, PIRATES 2: Scott Rolen had three hits and two RBI in his return to the lineup two days after he was hit in the helmet with a pitch, leading visiting St. Louis to victory.

Woody Williams (3-5) pitched six scoreless innings as the Cardinals swept the four-game series, and improved to 19-9 on the road, best in the NL. No team has won more games at PNC Park than the Cardinals, who are 22-6 there.

The Pirates lost their fifth in a row, and dropped to an NL-worst 9-18 at home.

Both managers were ejected with two outs in the ninth when Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez sent Tony Womack to the dirt with a high, inside pitch. Before the next pitch, Pirates Manager Lloyd McClendon stormed out of the dugout and headed toward the Cardinals dugout to confront his counterpart, Tony La Russa.

McClendon said he would quickly forget the incident, planned to speak with La Russa and labeled him "a quality individual."

* METS 4, MARLINS 1: Ty Wigginton and Mike Cameron drove in two runs apiece and host New York spoiled pitcher A.J. Burnett's return to the majors. Burnett, coming back from elbow ligament surgery, pitched four innings and allowed two runs in the second inning, when the Mets had three straight hits.

* DIAMONDBACKS 11, GIANTS 5: Luis Gonzalez doubled and scored the tying run, then drove in two more with a triple and host Arizona beat San Francisco for the third straight time.