Colorado (55-69) at Atlanta (70-53)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Tue Aug 24, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Braves hope a return home will help them expand their already comfortable lead in the NL East when they open a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies.

Although Atlanta dropped two of three to conclude a seven-game road trip, it remains 7 1/2 games ahead of Florida in the NL East. The Braves’ veterans, however, aren’t taking anything for granted.

“We know the teams behind us are pretty darn good and for whatever reason just aren’t clicking yet,” closer John Smoltz said. “This thing’s going to get close. We’re going to have our share of games where teams shut us down. That’s why it’s nice to have a cushion.”

J.D. Drew went 3-for-5 with a two-run double, helping the Braves beat Los Angeles 10-1 on Sunday for a split of the four-game series.

Chipper Jones capped an eight-run second inning with a three-run homer, his 22nd of the season. Jones has seven homers in the last nine games he has started. His 302 career home runs rank fifth among switch-hitters, 12 fewer than former Dodger Reggie Smith.

The eight-run inning was the Braves’ largest on the road this season. They had two bigger rallies at home, scoring 11 in the fourth inning of an 18-10 victory against the New York Mets on April 7, and nine in the fifth inning of a 10-4 win against Boston on July 4.

Colorado is coming off a 2-4 homestand that ended with an 8-2 loss to Montreal on Sunday.

“The whole week was embarrassing,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “We don’t have time for this to be summer camp.”

The Rockies hope a 12-game road trip will help them rebound. Colorado has won 13 of its last 19 road games.

Colorado, 14 games below .500, has been giving increased playing time to its younger players. One is rookie catcher J.D. Closser, who has started six of the last 10 games and is batting .355.

“We want to get an idea of what we have next year and I think the road trip right here, it can do good things if we win a couple series and hurt some of the teams that are going for that wild card,” second baseman Aaron Miles said. “I think we plan to be a spoiler for a lot of teams. We plan on playing good and continuing to look at it and get some momentum and get some good looks at these young guys for next year.”

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Starting Pitchers

S. Estes Was vs. R. Ortiz LAD
15-8 Record 15-9
5.84 ERA 4.13
117 K 143
105 BB 112
1.62 WHIP 1.51