Braves LHP Mike Hampton faces the possibility of elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Hampton, who has been sidelined since Aug. 20 with a herniated disk, saw orthopedist Dave Altchek in New York yesterday. Altchek confirmed the earlier diagnosis of the Braves' medical staff that the source of Hampton's forearm pain is coming from his elbow and that he might require reconstructive surgery.

Hampton will meet with the Braves in New York this weekend and make a decision on the surgery.

Hampton is 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA this season, making only 12 starts because of four trips to the disabled list.

Hampton joined Atlanta in 2003, reviving his career after two horrible seasons in Colorado. A 22-game winner with Houston in 1999, Hampton spent one season with the Mets in 2000 and then two with the Rockies.

He won 14 games in 2003 and went 13-9 with a 4.28 ERA last year. The 33-year-old has a career record of 138-101 with a 3.97 ERA.

* DUBIOUS FEAT: The Padres (72-73) continue to threaten to become the first team in major league history to win a division with a losing record.

Since 1969, and excluding strike years, the 1973 Mets own the lowest winning percentage of a division champion after going 82-79 (.509), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1984 Kansas City Royals and 1997 Astros both won their divisions with .519 winning percentages (84-78).

San Diego began its off day yesterday leading both the Dodgers and Giants by six games with 17 to play -- and that's with their final seven against the Dodgers and Giants.

"I don't really analyze the win-loss aspect and what-ifs," Padres SS Khalil Greene said. "Ultimately, we're trying to play good baseball and the other stuff will take its course."

* STREAK: Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins has a career-best 21-game hitting streak. Since 1900, the longest hitting streak for a Phillie is 26 games by Chuck Klein in 1930.

-- From News Services