Less than 2 weeks from his 40th birthday, John Smoltz looks as dominant as ever.
Smoltz beat the Dodgers for the first time in more than 8 years, pitching seven shutout innings to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 4-0 victory over visiting Los Angeles last night in a matchup of first-place teams.
Brian McCann returned to the lineup with a two-run double and Jeff Francoeur drove in Atlanta's other runs with a fifth-inning single.
That was plenty for Smoltz (4-1), who escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fourth on the way to his first win over Los Angeles since April 19, 1999 and the 197th of his career.
"I'm not going to go out there and strike out guys like I did in years past," Smoltz said. "But I'm going to be on the attack. Hopefully what I've learned to do is not give in to certain circumstances."
Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano finished off the eight-hit shutout with one scoreless inning apiece.
Brett Tomko (0-3) surrendered a season-high six walks and went to three balls on two other hitters in 4 2/3 innings.
Tomko has never had much success in Atlanta, dropping to 0-4 with an 8.88 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field.
Behind, 2-0, the NL West-leading Dodgers had a chance to get back in the game when they loaded the bases with three straight singles to start the fourth. But Andre Ethier popped out to shortstop, former Braves player Wilson Betemit struck out swinging and Ramon Martinez flied out to left.
Smoltz gave up half of his six hits in the fourth inning. He also walked two, while striking out six. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his seven starts this season.
Smoltz's career mark against Los Angeles improved to 16-13. But he had fewer chances to beat the Dodgers while missing all of 2000 recovering from elbow surgery, then spending three-plus seasons as the closer, picking up 154 saves.
In other games:
* At St. Louis, Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth inning, and the Cardinals ended a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
Before the game, the team honored Josh Hancock, killed in a car crash Sunday, with a video montage and put his initials and uniform number in a black circle against the bullpen wall not far from an identical remembrance of Darryl Kile, who died in 2002.
* At Cincinnati, Troy Tulowitzki's two-out single snapped an 11th-inning tie and led the Colorado Rockies over the Reds, 6-5. Colorado overcame Ken Griffey Jr.'s 567th career homer.
* At Phoenix, Paul Lo Duca and Julio Franco homered against Randy Johnson (0-2) to lead the New York Mets to a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. John Maine (5-0) pitched six innings and Jose Reyes had three hits for the Mets.
* At Milwaukee, Prince Fielder homered and drove in four runs as the Brewers routed the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-0.
* At Miami, Josh Willingham and Joe Borchard hit consecutive home runs to start the eighth inning to help the Florida Marlins rally past the San Diego Padres, 5-4.
Florida's Dontrelle Willis failed in his bid to become the National League's first six-game winner. Taylor Tankersley (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the Marlins.
* At Chicago, Derrek Lee homered, Alfonso Soriano had a key RBI double before scoring the go-ahead run against his former team and the Cubs rallied from four runs down to beat the Washington Nationals, 6-4. *