ATLANTA -- Well, if it's September, the Atlanta Braves must be beating the New York Mets again.
Greg Maddux pitched seven shutout innings, stringing Mets bats along Monday night as the Braves extended their National League East lead to four games with a 6-3 win at Turner Field.
John Rocker pitched the Braves out of an eighth-inning mess, then got Edgardo Alfonzo to pop up for the game's final out.
In this highly anticipated division showdown, 41,937 watched the Braves continue their mastery over their fiercest division challenger. The Mets last won a September game in Atlanta in 1996, and will get only two more chances this season.
The Braves, who have won 19 of their past 21 games against the Mets in Atlanta, are trying to win their ninth consecutive division crown.
"It sets the tone for the whole series," Chipper Jones said. "To go out and beat a guy like Mike Hampton is a big boost for our confidence."
The Mets were stymied by Mr. Maddux and his technical precision. He extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 29 1/3 , the second longest by a Braves pitcher in 20 years, while winning his 18th game this season.
Offensive support came from Brian Jordan, who homered and drove in two, and Andres Galarraga added two doubles.