Javy Lopez entered this season determined to regain his All-Star form. But even he couldn’t have imagined his revival would be this outstanding.
Lopez hit one of five Atlanta homers off Oakland starter Ted Lilly and drove in four runs Wednesday to lead the Braves to an 11-6 win. Atlanta has won six of seven.
“This ballpark, we just heard the ball goes out,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “But, man, it flies out.”
The win for the Braves was their first over the A’s since sweeping Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.
Lopez has been on a tear lately. The two-time All Star, who had a combined 28 homers and 118 RBIS over the last two seasons, has 11 homers and 19 RBIs over his last 12 games. With three hits Wednesday, the catcher is batting .413 (33-for-80) over his last 21 games with five doubles, 15 homers and 28 RBIs, raising his average to .314.
“I’m back on track again,” Lopez said. “What can I say? That’s all we’ve been hitting. It’s just a different day.”
Eric Chavez went 3-for-5 with an RBI for the A’s, who have lost three of four.
The third baseman is batting .387 (12-for-31) during his career-best nine-game hitting streak with three homers and 10 RBIs.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Athletics - 2nd place, 7 GB, AL West.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Shane Reynolds (4-1, 5.43 ERA). Reynolds is winless in his last two starts, allowing a total of eight runs and 11 hits over 10 innings. The veteran right-hander is coming off one of his worst outings of the season, surrendering six runs and seven hits over four innings but didn’t figure into the decision of Houston’s 8-6 win over Pittsburgh. Reynolds lost his lone career start against Oakland, allowing five runs and seven hits over 3 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss June 8, 2002 when he was pitching for Houston.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Barry Zito (7-4, 2.94 ERA). The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Zito won for the first time since a May 15 victory over Detroit with Friday’s 7-4 triumph over Philadelphia. The 25-year-old left-hander yielded two runs and five hits over six innings in the victory, striking out three and walking three. Zito makes his first career start against Atlanta.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .345 avg. and 53 RBIs; Lopez, 19 HRs; Furcal, 58 runs and 11 SBs. Athletics - Eric Byrnes, .331 avg. and 6 SBs; Chavez, 12 HRs; Erubial Durazo, 38 RBIs and 36 runs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Braves - 4-1; Athletics - 3-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - Atlanta has won 12 of its last 13 interleague games and is 19-4 against the AL the past two years. … The Braves have hit 56 homers over their last 23 games. … LF Chipper Jones, who jammed his left wrist May 31 against the New York Mets and missed one game, was scratched from the starting lineup Wednesday. His status for Thursday’s game remains uncertain. Athletics - LHP Zito leads the AL with a .197 opponents batting average, while his 2.94 ERA ranks third. … Oakland’s 68-44 interleague mark is tops in the majors, while the Braves are an NL-best 65-43 against the AL. … OF Byrnes went 2-for-4 Wednesday and is batting .391 (9-for-23) during his six-game hitting streak with six runs scored
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 19-11 on the road; Athletics - 20-9 at home.