Houston (18-10) at Atlanta (13-14)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 89° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri May 7, 2004
  • TV: KNWS, TBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With half of his regulars out with injuries, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox is left with few options.

Cox will try to guide his injury-depleted team to just its third win in eight games when it opens a three-game series against the visiting Houston Astros.

The Braves opened their six-game homestand by dropping two of three to San Diego.

In Thursday’s 7-3 loss, J.D. Drew, Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal all sat out with various injuries, and left fielder Chipper Jones was still on the disabled list with a partially torn hamstring. Jones, however, will be activated for Friday’s game.

Giles was hit in the left arm by a pitch Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but he was very sore, and could hardly bend the arm.

Furcal has missed four straight games with a jammed finger on his throwing hand, and Drew missed his third straight with a stiff neck.

As a result, Cox had to get creative with his lineup card.

Regular third baseman Mark DeRosa moved to shortstop to replace Furcal, and Jesse Garcia took over for Giles at second. Mike Hessman started at third.

Center fielder Andruw Jones, who had more experience in the majors than the other outfielders combined, was flanked by reserves Dewayne Wise and Damon Hollins.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada, referring to the injured players. “They could go 0-for-4, but just having the presence of them in our lineup makes everyone else better.

“The guys who’ve stepped in their place have been battling. But we just put ourselves in a hole early and I think some guys start pressing.”

The Astros, who have a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, have won seven of their last eight.

Wade Miller pitched 7 1-3 scoreless innings Thursday, and Morgan Ensberg was 2-for-4 with two RBIs as the Astros beat Pittsburgh 5-2.

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