The San Francisco Giants are still in second place, but Barry Bonds is the frontrunner again for the most-valuable-player award.
Bonds, out of his big September slump, hit two home runs in a game for the sixth time this season as the Giants beat the San Diego Padres, 3-1, Saturday at San Francisco behind the strong pitching of rookie Salomon Torres.
The Giants, who have won eight of their last nine games, remained 1 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL West as the Braves won, 9-7, at Philadelphia. San Francisco is one game down in the loss column with eight games left.
"I feel better now, like catching a second wind," Bonds said. "And we're just playing better now. I've always played well against San Diego, but everyone's got to do it. . . . We've got to score more runs. . . . We're getting opportunities and not capitalizing."
Torres (3-3) snapped a personal three-game losing streak and limited the Padres to three singles in eight innings, retiring the last 10 batters he faced. He struck out five and walked six.
"If you're going to get me, you have to get me early," Torres said. "I'm not nervous pitching up here in a pennant race. Even if I were nervous, I couldn't show it to the other team."
Rod Beck worked the ninth for his 43rd save, giving up a home run to Craig Shipley with one out.
Bonds hit solo homers in the second and fourth innings off Andy Ashby (3-10), giving him 43 homers and 111 RBIs. He has 19 career multiple-homer games.
Bonds had hit only one homer in September before connecting in the Giants' 4-3 victory Friday night.
Atlanta 9, Philadelphia 7-- Ron Gant's 36th homer capped a three-run eighth inning as the Braves' rallied to win at Philadelphia.
Otis Nixon had three hits and an RBI for the Braves, who won their 99th game of the season, breaking the franchise record set last year.
With the score 6-6, pinch-hitter Deion Sanders started the eighth-inning rally with an infield single off reliever Roger Mason (5-12). Nixon then singled to left field, and when the ball bounced past Pete Incaviglia for an error, Sanders scored and Nixon went to third.
Jeff Blauser hit a popout to shallow right field and Nixon tagged up and scored on the short sacrifice fly. Gant followed with a line drive over the left-field fence.
Montreal 4, New York 1--Tim Spehr drove in two runs with a homer and and a single at New York as the Expos won and gained a game on the Phillies.
It was the Mets' 102nd loss of the season, their most since going 50-112 in 1965.
Denis Boucher (2-1) scattered seven hits and gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings for the victory. Gil Heredia pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking five and giving up one hit for his second save.
Florida 2, St. Louis 1--The Marlins rallied for two runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Cardinals at Miami.
The eighth-inning rally started after an error by first baseman Gregg Jefferies that allowed Chuck Carr to reach base. Henry Cotto followed with a single and a throwing error by center fielder Ray Lankford put runners at second and third.
Sacrifice flies from Jeff Conine and Orestes Destrade made a winner out of Jack Armstrong (9-15).
Cincinnati 6, Colorado 0--Jose Rijo pitched his first one-hitter and Reggie Sanders hit a two-run homer as the Reds won at Denver.
Rijo (14-8) gave up only a broken-bat single by Charlie Hayes in the second inning. He struck out eight and walked none.
It was his second complete game of the season, but his first nine-inning complete game since last year. On May 12, Rijo won a five-inning, 3-2 decision over San Diego.
Greg Harris (11-16) took the loss for Colorado, giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings. He had two strikeouts, one walk and a balk.