ATLANTA - John Smoltz knew the pain was too intense to keep pitching this season.

Now, the Atlanta Braves righthander hopes to add one more comeback to his remarkable career.

Smoltz will undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder next week, but the 41-year-old is not ready to concede his next move is retirement.

"I've pulled off a lot of miracles," Smoltz said yesterday at a hastily called news conference before the Braves' game against the Florida Marlins. "I probably shouldn't have played this long. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can extend it."

The only pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins and 150 saves already has returned from four elbow operations, but it's highly improbable for someone his age to come back from a major procedure.

Smoltz' shoulder began hurting nearly a year ago during a start in Milwaukee. He's been on the disabled list three times since then and returned on Monday night against Florida in the closer role he held from 2001 to '04.

But one inning against the Marlins - in which he blew a save - convinced him that it was futile to continue. *