Baltimore (42-32) at Atlanta (40-34)

  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 26, 2005
  • TV: WJZ, TBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Andruw Jones is in a zone, and the Atlanta Braves intend to ride him for as long as they can.

“He’s in one of those periods where you do expect it,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Nothing is going to shock you.”

Jones looks to continue his home run tear when the Braves try to complete a three-game sweep of the slumping Baltimore Orioles at Turner Field.

Jones belted a solo homer in Atlanta’s 7-5 series-opening win Friday, and followed it up with a dramatic walk-off blast leading off the ninth inning Saturday, propelling the Braves to a 5-4 victory.

The slugging center fielder has seven homers in his last eight games, helping Atlanta go 6-2 during his hot stretch. His 23 homers lead the majors.

“It’s getting to the point where it wasn’t exactly a big surprise because he hadn’t hit a home run yet and he hits about one a night,” said Atlanta’s Adam LaRoche, whose pinch-hit single broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning Saturday.

Jones’ blast took some of the sting out of the Braves’ bullpen meltdown. Guarding a 7-0 lead after seven innings, Atlanta allowed a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth to squander a brilliant six-inning effort by Roman Colon in his first major league start.

“I’m not trying to lead the league in home runs,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to go out and hit the ball and make my team win.”

The Orioles dropped out of first place in the AL East for the first time since late April on Friday, and fell 1 1/2 games back of division-leading Boston with Saturday’s defeat.

“To come back like that and to lose it on the first hitter, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Baltimore has lost a season-high four straight games overall, and nine of its last 11 on the road.

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