Atlanta (7-8) at Washington (9-6)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Thu Apr 21, 2005
  • TV: TBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

John Smoltz will try for his first victory of the season and help the struggling Atlanta Braves avoid a two-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

After returning to the Braves rotation this season, Smoltz has gotten better with each start. He got pounded for seven runs on opening day, but rebounded with a career-best tying 15-strikeout effort against the Mets five days later.

In last start, Smoltz gave up two runs and five hits, striking out four in seven innings but was on the short end of a 2-1 defeat on Saturday to the Phillies.

“0-3 is not an indication of how I’ve been pitching,” Smoltz said. “That’s what I have to keep remembering. My statistics will come around. If I keep giving up two runs or less, I’m going to get a lot of wins. I have to look at it like it’s a fluke.”

Little is going right for the offensively challenged Braves either.

They were held to three hits on Wednesday in a 2-0 loss. Atlanta has scored just six runs in losing four of its last five games.

Washington avoided it’s first three-game losing streak in franchise history with Wednesday’s win, as Jose Vidro’s two-run homer was all the offense the team would need.

The Expos went 5-14 against the Braves last season and won just one of the teams’ past 10 season series. The Nationals are 3-1 against the Braves, with Wednesday’s victory.

“We’re certainly overdue to play good baseball against them,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “Normally, this is the type of ballgame they would beat us in last year and the year before. They would come back in the seventh, eight and ninth inning. Tonight we closed them down.”

Washington has already made huge strides this year in close games. Last season the franchise was 23-40 in games decided by two runs or less. This season, the Nationals are 5-0.

“I guess we’re going to walk that tightrope all year long,” Robinson said, “and sometimes you’re going to fall off, but hopefully a majority of the time you’ll stay up there and come away with the win.”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Smoltz StL vs. J. Patterson Tex
14-7 Record 9-7
3.06 ERA 3.13
169 K 185
53 BB 65
1.15 WHIP 1.19