Delgado, Green lift Mets past Smoltz, Braves in opener

NEW YORK (AP) -- Closing in on a runaway division title, the New York Mets might have found another pitcher.

Dave Williams delivered his fourth solid performance in a row and New York got home runs from Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green to
beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

After spending most of an injury-plagued summer in the minors, Williams is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts for the Mets, who have won all four of those outings.

"He's been a very, very pleasant surprise," manager Willie Randolph said. "So far, I like what I see."

Asked if Williams has a chance to make the playoff roster, Randolph said the left-hander is an option -- just like everyone else on the staff.

Delgado hit a tiebreaking home run off John Smoltz in the sixth, and Green added his first homer with New York in the eighth.

Green also doubled, singled and scored twice. Jose Valentin hit
an RBI double for the NL East-leading Mets, who improved to 14-4 in their last 18 games and trimmed their magic number to 10 for clinching their first division championship since 1988.

Brian McCann homered and leadoff batter Willy Aybar had three hits for the Braves, but they couldn't muster much support for Smoltz (12-8).

"I just don't understand. But I guess you give credit to the other pitcher. He gave up one run," Smoltz said.

A rainout Tuesday night forced Atlanta to play its third doubleheader in five days. The Braves played two games each on Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia, splitting both twinbills. They do have a day off on Thursday.

Kyle Davies started the second game against New York's Oliver Perez.

With the score tied at 1, Paul Lo Duca singled leading off the sixth. Delgado then drove a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence for his 36th homer, and Smoltz threw his head back in frustration.

"I made one bad pitch and we scored only one run. They've got a great lineup. There's no holes and no breathing," Smoltz said. "Their offense is the best in baseball, I think. I still believe they are going to the World Series."

Green hit an opposite-field shot off Macay McBride in the eighth, making it 4-1. Acquired on Aug. 22 from Arizona, Green entered the game batting only .179 with five RBI in 39 at-bats with the Mets. He finished 3-for-4.

"I remember he used to do that a lot for Toronto, hitting the ball the other way," Randolph said. "That's a good sign for him."

McCann hit the first pitch of the second inning over the right-center fence for his 17th home run, but that was all Atlanta could manage against Williams (5-3). He cruised through six innings on only 72 pitches, allowing five hits, no walks and striking out four.

Acquired from Cincinnati on May 25, Williams was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, where he was on the disabled list from June 9 to July 29 with a strained left shoulder. He made his Mets debut on Aug. 19 against Colorado.

"In this game you don't get too many opportunities and you better take advantage of them or they're going to find someone else," Williams said. "If I pitch well enough, hopefully I'll play here next year. And if they don't have me on the playoff roster, so be it. I'm just trying to finish up strong and put myself in a position to hopefully make that roster."

Pedro Feliciano and Guillermo Mota each worked a scoreless inning before Billy Wagner got three quick outs for his 35th save in 40 chances.

The Mets tied it at 1 in the second when Green led off with a single and scored from first on Valentin's double.

The 39-year-old Smoltz allowed three runs and eight hits on 125 pitches in six innings, surpassing 200 innings for the season. The right-hander gave up a season-high seven runs in five innings of his previous start, an 8-6 loss to San Francisco.

Game notes
Aybar singled in his first two at-bats but was picked off by Williams in the third. ... Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran (bruised left knee) and left fielder Cliff Floyd (sore left Achilles' tendon) did not play in the opener, but both were in the lineup for the second game. ... Smoltz is 14-13 in his career against the Mets. ... Braves second baseman Marcus Giles batted leadoff in the nightcap, his first action since medical tests Sunday in Atlanta determined he has a healthy heart and he was cleared to resume playing. Last weekend in Philadelphia, Giles was told he might have a heart defect.