John Smoltz finally got some run support in his last outing—and his first win as a starter in nearly four years.
Smoltz returned to Atlanta’s rotation this season after spending most of the last four years as the closer. After a disastrous first start in which he allowed seven runs in 1 2-3 innings against Florida, Smoltz turned in three straight solid outings, giving up just five runs in 21 1-3 innings.
The Braves scored just two runs with Smoltz in the game in those first four starts and he entered Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets with an 0-3 record. However, Atlanta scored three runs in the first inning against Pedro Martinez and Smoltz picked up a 4-3 win.
Smoltz allowed just one earned run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings in his first win as a starter since June 3, 2001, against Pittsburgh.
“It’s a big part of the process,” he said. “You need a game like this. It means there’s a lot of life left.”
Smoltz, who will be 38 on May 15, won despite not having his best stuff on a cold, windy New York night. He mixed a four-seam fastball, a two-seamer and some changeups.
“It was a battle,” he said. “I was grinding out there. I didn’t have a good splitter or curve. The ball felt like a cueball. I abandoned a pitch or two. I didn’t have a good feel of the ball. Patience paid off. The last three games were a grind, just like this one.”
The Braves beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Saturday on Raul Mondesi’s game-ending homer in the bottom of the ninth. Dan Kolb, acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason to take over as Atlanta’s closer, earned his first win and the Braves won for the seventh time in nine games.
Kolb had been struggling with his new team, coming into the game with six saves but an ERA of 8.00.