MILWAUKEE -- John Smoltz excels at whatever the Atlanta Braves ask him to be: starter, closer -- or lately, a stopper.
Smoltz allowed three hits in seven strong innings for his first win this month, leading the Braves over the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 Saturday night.
"I take the mound with the focus that is we cannot lose," he said after earning his 13th win in his fifth attempt. "I've had that feeling for a long time. That's the feeling you want to have as a pitcher. Find a way, any way, battle."
Chipper Jones hit a tying two-run single in the fifth and scored the go-ahead run two outs later on Jeff Francoeur's single. Jones and Francoeur each had three hits, and the NL East-leading Braves tied their season high with 17.
Smoltz (13-6) who leads the Braves in wins, finished August with a 1-1 mark in five starts. He came into the month with an eight-game winning streak, but had not won since beating Pittsburgh on July 31. His last road win had come on July 20 at San Francisco.
"It's been a grind," he said.
Smoltz is 9-1 in 13 starts after Braves losses, with the team going 11-2 in those games. He struck out eight, walked three and allowed three hits, including two-run homers to Geoff Jenkins and Bill Hall.
"John Smoltz is pretty good," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He's been pretty good for a long time."
Andruw Jones and Adam LaRoche each had run-scoring singles in the sixth off reliever Dana Eveland. Rafael Furcal tacked on another run with a single in the seventh off Tomo Ohka, pushing the lead to 8-4.
The Braves spoiled the Brewers' chance to get to .500 for the first time since Aug. 7, when they were 56-56. They also ruined Rick Helling's first major-league start since Aug. 13, 2003, against Tampa Bay while with Baltimore.
Helling had made eight relief appearances since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Nashville on July 27. He replaced ineffective Victor Santos, who was demoted to the bullpen Aug. 23.
Helling left with a 4-2 lead after walking Furcal to start the fifth. He allowed three runs and four hits and struck out three in four-plus innings, his longest outing this season in the majors.
"The walks drive me crazy," Helling said. "There's no excuse for that."
Santos (4-13) took the loss after he failed to hold the lead as the Braves scored three times to go ahead 5-4. Marcus Giles doubled, Jones followed with a two-run single and Francoeur hit a two-out single.
It was Santos' second relief appearance and first since April 30.
"The bullpen just struggled," Yost said. "They hit the ball hard and they found the holes."
Jenkins hit a line-drive home run just over the wall in right to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead in the second. Smoltz singled and scored on Giles' two-out double off the wall in center as the Braves made it 2-1 the third.
Lyle Overbay walked and scored on Hall's 16th home run, a shot that glanced off the right-field foul pole, as Milwaukee retook the lead 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth.
"The home runs just shocked me," said Smoltz, who retired 10 of the next 12 batters after Hall's drive. "We needed to win, and the guys came through. I knew if I could keep it close, that we would have a chance."
RHP Ben Sheets was put on the 15-day disabled list by the Brewers on Saturday with a torn back muscle and might miss the rest of the season. ... The game's start was pushed back 30 minutes when the Brewers honored Bob Uecker for his 50 years in major league baseball as a player and radio announcer. ... Helling was 9-3 in 21 starts at Nashville before being called up. ... The Brewers had their seventh sellout of the season.