Kelly Johnson couldn't stand the excitement after the Atlanta Braves' 9-6 win over the Mets in New York yesterday.

"That was one of the most exciting ones I've seen between the Braves and the Mets," Atlanta's second baseman said. "It's only April, and if that's something to look forward to for the rest of the year, it could be pretty exciting. I have a feeling that we're going to change hands at the top of the division many more times."

Johnson homered on Tom Glavine's first pitch of the game, then hit a tiebreaking, three-run drive off Aaron Heilman in the eighth inning, the first multihomer game of his career.

A sellout crowd of 55,671 came out on a sunny spring afternoon to watch Glavine face John Smoltz, his golfing buddy and former Braves teammate. What was a pitchers' duel through five innings turned into a battle of bats. Jose Reyes' three-run triple in the sixth put Glavine and the Mets ahead, but Edgar Renteria erased a 6-3 deficit in the seventh with a three-run homer off Scott Schoeneweis.

That set up Johnson, who went 3-for-4, making him 13-for-25 (.520) for the week.

After 3 weeks, the first-place Braves (12-6) have a half-game lead in the NL East over the Mets (11-6), who last year ended Atlanta's run of consecutive division titles at 14.

"I don't think it's too early for any kind of signature win," Smoltz said. "We were going to lose this game. For all the ways they scored in the sixth inning, it just looked like it was too much for us to come back. And for us to come back and win this game was just a tribute to everybody's effort."

Glavine allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, while Smoltz gave up six runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.

In other games:

* At San Francisoo, Barry Bonds hit his 740th career home run and Matt Cain pitched a three-hitter to earn his first win of the season in the Giants' 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bonds moved within 15 homers of Hank Aaron when he sent the first pitch from Yusmeiro Petit into the seats in the rightfield arcade for his sixth homer of the season.

* At Miami, Dan Uggla homered twice and drove in six runs and Miguel Cabrera hit a drive into the upper deck to help the Florida Marlins beat the Washington Nationals, 12-6. Ryan Zimmerman hit his first career grand slam for the Nationals.

* At Los Angeles, Adam LaRoche homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates were helped by three errors from the Dodgers in a 7-5 victory. Chris Duffy had three hits, stole two bases and scored two runs, and lefthander Tom Gorzelanny won his third straight game.

* At Chicago, Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning, Scott Rolen had a career-best five hits and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cubs, 12-9, after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth. The Cubs had tied the score on Mark DeRosa's two-out, two-run bloop single off Jason Isringhausen.

* At Denver, Jason Hirsh outpitched Greg Maddux for the second time this season and the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres, 4-2. Matt Holliday had a single, double and triple for the Rockies, and drove in a run.

* At Milwaukee, Dave Bush pitched into the ninth inning as the Brewers beat the Houston Astros, 4-3. Bush had thrown 26 straight scoreless innings against the Astros before allowing three ninth-inning runs. Geoff Jenkins had two doubles and finished with his third three-hit game of the season for Milwaukee.


* Arizona's Randy Johnson will be on a 100-pitch count when he comes off the disabled list to make his 2007 debut tomorrow against San Diego.

* Cubs broadcaster and former All-Star Ron Santo remained hospitalized while underdoing tests for an irregular heartbeat. Santo, 67, was admitted to the hospital Saturday night. His return to the radio booth is undetermined. *