Carlos Delgado hit a three-run homer and Maine gave up only three hits and one run to lead New York to a 7-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, stopping the NL East-leading Mets' losing streak at five games.
The only run Maine (14-8) allowed came in the sixth, after he loaded the bases with no outs. Maine struck out eight and walked three in seven innings, and won for only the second time in his last six starts.
Mets manager Willie Randolph said Maine showed new maturity with his ability to pitch through the sixth-inning jam.
"He's getting better and better in crucial situations," Randolph said.
Added New York's David Wright: "He was lights out today."
After the long sixth inning, Maine pitched a perfect seventh, giving New York's bullpen more rest.
"It was good for me personally to go out and pitch the seventh, but it was bigger for the team," Maine said.
Jose Reyes also hit a homer for the Mets, who had losing months in June (12-15) and July (13-14) but finished 15-13 in August, even after losing four straight to division rival Philadelphia. New York, which remained two games ahead of the Phillies, won for only the third time in seven games in Atlanta this season.
"There's no panic," Wright said. "Everybody is calm in here. We've lost four games in a row before. ... People say this is a must-win game and all that. We're the ones in the driver's seat. We have to remember that."
The third-place Braves don't have to be reminded after they fell 5 1/2 back in the division.
"Every game against everybody is huge for us," said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson.
"We've got to start playing better. We've got to start playing with a little more passion."
Maine's strong outing came after Martinez threw well in a bullpen session before the game. Martinez had surgery Oct. 5 to repair a torn rotator cuff and hasn't pitched in the major leagues in almost a year, but he may start Monday in Cincinnati.
The Mets had lost their first four series against the Braves, losing two of three each time.
Hudson (15-7) was 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his first two starts against New York this season, but surrendered six hits and four runs in six innings. He had allowed only five homers in his first 28 starts before giving up the homers to Delgado and Reyes.
Hudson recorded two outs before finding trouble in the fourth when Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou reached on singles. Delgado crushed a pitch over the middle of the plate for a homer to center, his 20th of the season, to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
"The cutter to Delgado stayed pretty straight," Hudson said.
Asked Delgado when told of Hudson's comment: "Why does every time I hit a home run it have to be a cutter that doesn't cut?"
Hudson again had two outs in the fifth before Reyes lined a homer about 15 rows deep in the right-field seats.
"You think you're going to cruise through the inning," Hudson said. "They didn't give up. They kept putting up good at-bats."
Pete Orr, pinch-hitting for Hudson, led off the sixth with a single before Maine loaded the bases with walks to Kelly Johnson and Matt Diaz. Chipper Jones popped out to David Wright at third base before Orr scored on a wild pitch.
"We had the right guys up," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. "They've been doing it all year. They just didn't do it."
- Delgado moved past Billy Williams for 38th place with 427 career homers.
- The Mets will recall RHP Mike Pelfrey from New Orleans to start Saturday's game. LHP Chuck James will come off the disabled list to start for Atlanta.
- Diaz made a leaping catch at the left-field wall of an Alou drive to end the sixth inning.