Olympique Lyon moved out of the bottom three with their first away points of the season thanks to a 3-2 win at AS Nancy.
Led by France internationals Dimitri Payet and Blaise Matuidi, St Etienne's pace caused endless problems but they fell behind when Andre-Pierre Gignac opened his Marseille account.
The France striker, who joined from Toulouse in August for a fee put at 18 million euros by French media, struck in the 27th minute after a ricochet off the referee.
Batlles then equalised against his old club just before the hour and St Etienne might even have snatched victory at the end when Matuidi's shot was tipped over by Steve Mandanda.
"We wanted to close the gap (on the leaders), but they showed they are really strong this season, so this is a good point (away from home)," goalkeeper Mandanda said.
Lyon's win moved them up to 17th in the 20-team standings on eight points thanks to two goals from Jimmy Briand.
It brought some relief to under-fire manager Claude Puel and rounded off a good week for the seven-times champions, although they did let a two-goal lead slip early in the second half.
"It's a vital three points ," Puel said. "We managed to get the ball on the ground after 20 minutes and scored a great goal, but we failed at set pieces which put us under pressure."
Girondins Bordeaux took their unbeaten run to three matches with a 1-0 win over FC Lorient as the 2009 champions looked to have recovered some defensive solidity.
Defender Michael Ciani's 30-metre lob was enough to beat Lorient, despite France striker Kevin Gameiro hitting the post early on for the Brittany outfit.
Bordeaux have struggled to gel since Jean Tigana took over from France coach Laurent Blanc at the start of the season but the result moved them into 10th on 11 points.
Surprise package Stade Brest, returning to the top flight for the first time in 19 years, moved up to fourth and level on 14 poionts with Toulouse thanks to a goal from midfielder Bruno Grougi in a 1-0 win over Monaco on the French Riviera.
The north-west team have not lost since a 1-0 defeat by Lyon on August 21 and notched a fifth straight clean sheet.
Auxerre hit back after the disappointment of a Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid after a late goal in midweek by hammering basement club Arles-Avignon 4-0 away for their first league win of the season.
Former Bosnia coach Faruk Hadzibegic took the helm at Arles this week but his side are still without a point and remain five adrift of fellow strugglers Racing Lens who lost 3-0 at Sochaux.
Arles slumped to their eighth consecutive league defeat, closing in on FC Grenoble's 11-match record from last year.
"I don't regret coming here," Hadzibegic said. "I know it's going to be complicated but it's up to me to find a solution."
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