The left-hander, who was 1-13 last season even though he spent half of it with the pennant-contending Montreal Expos, has done his part in keeping the Pirates on top.
Smith gave up seven hits and no earned runs Wednesday night at Pittsburgh in pitching the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The performance gave Smith a 6-1 record since the Pirates obtained him from the Expos. The Pirates retained their three-game lead in the East with seven games left and reduced their magic number to five.
Andy Van Slyke had the big hit, a two-run triple when the Pirates scored all their runs in the fifth inning.
The fleet center fielder, who also scored a run, is batting .400 in the last 12 games.
The Pirate defense almost proved too much for Smith. Second baseman Jose Lind made a wild throw trying to complete a double play and gave the Cubs a run in the fourth inning.
In the ninth, third baseman Jeff King and shortstop Jay Bell made errors for two more runs. Bell fumbled a likely double play ball to allow the Cubs to cut the lead to a run. But the next batter, Damon Berryhill, hit the same kind of grounder, and Bell turned it into the game-ending double play.
Surprising as it may seem, Smith, once a 15-game winner for Atlanta, has pitched better than his record indicates. His ERA in nine starts for the Pirates is 0.55.
In the game he lost, 4-3, at Montreal, he gave up one earned run. In a game at Houston, he left after eight innings, leading 2-0, but the Pirates lost in the ninth. In his last six starts, covering 49 innings, Smith has given up three earned runs and is 4-1.
Smith's next start will be against the Mets Monday at Pittsburgh, where he is 5-0 as a Pirate. He is 3-0 against the Mets this season.
"I remember him when he couldn't win a game," Cub Manager Don Zimmer said. "He's come here and given them a lift. They wouldn't be where they are without him."
Bell, in his first season as Pirate shortstop, said that Smith came out to him after his error in the ninth and said, "Let's go.
"He was trying to tell me not to worry. He's something else. And then, he gave me another chance. What a guy!"
New York 4, Montreal 0--The Mets combined the pitching of David Cone (13-10) with timely hitting for their second victory in a row on the road.
Cone, given three runs in the first two innings, gave up only two hits and struck out seven in eight innings.
In four of his previous five starts, Cone had been ineffective, but with the Expos in a hitting slump, he had no problems.
Montreal, a contender until a week ago, is 1-6 in its last seven games, in which it has scored only 10 runs.
Darryl Strawberry returned to the Met lineup after missing a game because of back spasms. He had two hits, driving in a run.
San Francisco 7, San Diego 6--Matt Williams hit two home runs and drove in five runs at San Francisco to take over the lead in runs batted in with 119. He has 33 home runs.
Williams, already considered one of the best defensive third baseman the Giants have had, is now the most prolific run producer at the position. Mel Ott, who spent one full season at the position, drove in 116 in 1938.
Williams' two-run home run in the fifth inning ended the scoring.
"It's an honor," Williams said. "I don't know if Ott had the opportunities I had. It seems every time I go to the plate, there are runners in scoring position."
Four relievers blanked the Padres for the last five innings, Steve Bedrosian pitching the ninth to get his 16th save.
St. Louis 8, Philadelphia 1--Bryn Smith (9-8) gave up only one run in seven innings and Todd Zeile hit his 15th home run to lead the Cardinals at Philadelphia.
Len Dykstra returned to the Phillies' lineup, went 0 for 4 and dropped to .325.