The Atlanta Braves can thank their lucky stars for Chipper Jones and Greg Norton.
The torrid-hitting Jones moved within one homer of No. 400, hitting a three-run shot, and Norton came through with a two-run double in the eighth inning that rallied the Atlanta Braves to another come-from-behind victory, 5-4 over the slumping Florida Marlins on Tuesday night.
Jones moved ahead of former Braves great Dale Murphy on the career list, and pulled into a tie with Hall of Famer Al Kaline and one of Jones' ex-teammates, Andres Galarraga.
The next homer - and it shouldn't take long the way Jones is hitting - will make him the 43rd player in baseball history with 400.
"I don't ever think about that kind of stuff until you bring it up," Jones told reporters. "It makes me blush."
His face actually was a light shade of red, though that may have had more to do with the sweltering night at Turner Field.
Jones, who actually managed to raise an average that already was over .400, sparked the Braves in the eighth with a leadoff single against Matt Lindstrom (1-1). Mark Teixeira followed with a double into the left-field corner, putting runners at second and third.
Norton, a .171-hitting utilityman forced to start because the Braves have two outfielders on the disabled list, drove the first pitch he saw just inside the first-base bag. The ball didn't stop rolling until it got to the corner, bringing home the tying and winning runs.
Out in left field, Norton had another adventurous night. He lost a fly ball in the lights, but managed to make the catch before falling on his rear end.
"It's some kind of comedy with me in left field," said the 35-year-old Norton, who's played mostly infield in his career. "I'm just trying to dive in more runs than I give up."
The Braves actually won a one-run game, improving their mark in those contests to 3-16, despite two more homers by Florida's slugging second baseman, Dan Uggla.
"Close games are tough," Uggla said. "We won a lot of close games in April."
Now, they're losing them. The Marlins have dropped six of their last seven to slide out of first in the NL East.
Elsewhere in the NL it was: Philadelphia 3, Cincinnati 2; Houston 2, Pittsburgh 0; Milwaukee 7, Arizona 1; Colorado 3, Los Angeles 0; New York 9, San Francisco 6; St. Louis 6, Washington 1; and Chicago 9, San Diego 6.
At Atlanta, Will Ohman (3-0) won for the second night in a row with a scoreless inning. Rafael Soriano worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
"Soriano was really good," manager Bobby Cox said. "Ohman's been doing the job. He's kind of the unsung hero of the bullpen."
John Smoltz never got up for the Braves. The starter-turned-closer's ailing shoulder was sore after his first appearance out of the bullpen since 2004. He gave up two runs in the ninth on Monday, blowing a save chance, but the Braves rallied to win on Yunel Escobar's 10th-inning homer.
Jones homered in the first, giving Atlanta a quick 3-1 lead, and finished 2-for-4 to push his average from .407 to .409.
Uggla led off second by hitting a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats. Atlanta starter Jorge Campillo knew he left a fat one over the heart of the plate, shaking his head in disgust as soon as the Florida slugger connected.
But Uggla wasn't done.
Two innings later, he practically swung one-handed to reach a low pitch from Campillo, the ball soaring toward left and barely clearing the wall to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead. It was Uggla's 18th homer and third two-homer game of the season.
He's on his way to his best season yet after hitting 31 homers a year ago and 27 in 2006.
"It doesn't really matter when you don't win," Uggla said.
Campillo had his worst showing of a surprisingly effective season, lasting only four innings. He surrendered six hits and four runs - one more than he had given up in 23 2-3 innings coming in.
Hanley Ramirez led off the game with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Jorge Cantu's sacrifice fly.
Florida starter Burke Badenhop got in a big jam right away. Yunel Escobar led off the bottom of the first with a single, and Kelly Johnson followed with a walk. That brought up Jones, who turned a 2-1 pitch into a monstrous drive that went out in centre.
"It was a sinker that didn't sink enough," Badenhop said.
The youngster, who came into the game with a 6.75 ERA, settled down after Jones' homer. Badenhop allowed only one more hit over his five-inning stint, though he did have to work around four walks in all.
Phillies 3, Reds 2
At Philadelphia, Pat Burrell hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, Adam Eaton pitched 6 2-3 impressive innings and the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 Tuesday night.
Astros 2, Pirates 0
At Pittsburgh, Lance Berkman and Miguel Tejada doubled in runs, Wandy Rodriguez pitched six shutout innings in his second start after coming off the disabled list, and Houston ended a five-game losing streak.
Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 1
At Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit a two-run home run to ruin a memorable night for Arizona's Randy Johnson.
Rockies 3, Dodgers 0
At Los Angeles, Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C., outpitched longtime Rockies nemesis Brad Penny and Colorado snapped an eight-game losing streak, beating the Dodgers in a game that was punctuated by a bench-clearing brawl.
Mets 9, Giants 6
At San Francisco, Pedro Martinez came off the disabled list to make his second 2008 start for the Mets and got a win over the Giants, more than two months after leaving his first start of the year April 1 with a hamstring injury.
Cardinals 6, Nationals 1
At Washington, the St. Louis Cardinals faced more resistance from Mother Nature than from the Nationals, enduring more than 2 1/2 hours of delays before finishing off a victory.
Cubs 9, Padres 6
At San Diego, Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer and Mark DeRosa added a two-run shot to lead the Cubs over the Padres for their ninth straight win.
It only took three innings for Joba Chamberlain's hyped debut as the Yankee's starter to buckle and retreat back into the dugout.
Chamberlain lasted 2 1-3 innings and Roy Halladay held the New York Yankees in check despite some control problems of his own, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 9-3 victory on Tuesday night.
"I wanted to get my team a lot deeper into the game and it wasn't very good," Chamberlain said. "That's what it comes down to. I've got to be better, that's for sure."
Alex Rios extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 24 games and David Eckstein had three RBIs for Toronto, which patiently concentrated on Chamberlain's pitch count and forced New York to use six pitchers total.
"We worked him good, we really did," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's going to be really good once he builds up his stamina. He's got overpowering stuff."
Halladay (7-5) won his fourth straight decision and improved to 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in his last seven games. He allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.
The former AL Cy Young Award winner got off to a rough start but quickly settled down and improved to 11-5 with a 3.03 ERA against New York.
"I felt like for the most part we were pretty good when we had to be," Halladay said. "It was one of those games where you were grinding all the time."
Halladay was around long after Chamberlain departed from his much-anticipated start.
Elsewhere in the AL it was: Boston 7, Tampa Bay 4; Chicago 9, Kansas City 5; Baltimore 5, Minnesota 3; Texas 12, Cleveland 7; Oakland 5, Detroit 4; and Los Angeles 5, Seattle 4.
At New York, a sellout crowd of 53,629 that included Chamberlain's father, Harlan, roared as the hard-throwing right-hander was introduced with the starting lineup and gave the youngster a standing ovation before he threw his first pitch.
His initial offering to leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart was a ball - a sign of things to come. Chamberlain touched 101 m.p.h. on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard but walked three and threw 38 pitches in the first as Toronto took a 1-0 lead on Rios' groundout.
Chamberlain retired the side in order in the second and got Marco Scutaro to fly out to right to begin the third. But Rios walked on four straight balls, and manager Joe Girardi removed the 22-year-old after 62 pitches, about what the Yankees had planned to limit him to.
"It was the first step, that's all," said team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, who watched the game in his office at the Yankees' facility in Tampa, Fla. "Again, he's 22. This was the first step. We're looking at a 10 year or more career.
"Tonight was a creation of the media. If this had been a first start for any other pitcher on any other team, it wouldn't have been such a big deal."
Chamberlain walked off the mound and sheepishly removed his cap to acknowledge the cheering crowd as he approached the dugout. He threw his glove down as he climbed down the steps and sat down with a dejected look on his face.
Dan Giese (0-1) relieved Chamberlain and allowed a run in 3 2-3 innings in his first game with New York.
"I was mad at myself," Chamberlain said. "You know you've only got so many pitches and I didn't do a very good job of conserving those pitches."
Chamberlain, the 41st overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, was converted to a reliever last year to help the Yankees bridge the gap to closer Mariano Rivera. He made his major league debut at Toronto on Aug. 7 and went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 19 games.
He opened this season in the bullpen but was stretched out over three appearances before he joined the rotation.
"It's his first start," Girardi said. "He wasn't quite as sharp as he probably wanted to be but in saying that, he kept us in the game."
Rios extended his streak against the Yankees with a seventh-inning single. It's the second-longest active streak against one team in the majors and the longest against New York since Charlie Gehringer's 31-game streak for Detroit from 1935-36, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Derek Jeter singled in the ninth inning to tie Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees' career list with 2,415 hits. Jeter, who went 2-for-5, received a warm ovation from what was left of the capacity crowd.
Rod Barajas and Eckstein each had a two-run double in Toronto's six-run seventh.
Red Sox 7, Rays 4
At Boston, the Red Sox kept winning at home even without David Ortiz. Coco Crisp hit a tie-breaking double and Boston won the matchup of the AL East's top two teams.
White Sox 9, Royals 5
At Chicago, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski, Nick Swisher and Alexei Ramirez homered and the White Sox beat the Royals and Zack Greinke.
Orioles 5, Twins 3
At Minneapolis, Radhames Liz made a solid 2008 debut and got help from homers by Kevin Millar and Melvin Mora.
Rangers 12, Indians 7
At Arlington, Texas, Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley hit consecutive homers to set the tone in a four-run first inning.
Oakland 5, Detroit 4
At Oakland, Jack Cust beat out an infield single to give the Athletics a slim victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Angels 5, Mariners 4
At Seattle, Joe Saunders allowed one earned run in seven innings to become the AL's first nine-game winner and Maicer Izturis drove in three runs as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Mariners.