Braves 6, Pirates 5

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ATLANTA (AP)—After his fourth home run in two days, Javy Lopez tried to retreat to the Atlanta clubhouse.

The home fans—and his teammates—wouldn’t let him.

Lopez hit two of Atlanta’s four home runs before leaving with a wrist injury, and the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 Sunday.

His second homer, a two-run shot off Josh Fogg (2-3), gave Atlanta the lead for good. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and when play was delayed for a pitching change, the cheering got louder.

Finally, Lopez came to the top of the dugout steps for his curtain call.

“He likes to go back in the runway, where it’s nice and cool,” teammate Mark DeRosa said. “We wouldn’t let him.”

Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal also homered for Atlanta, which leads the majors with 98. The Braves have won five straight and matched the best 61-game start in franchise history at 42-19.

Lopez connected off Fogg to lead off the fifth, and Furcal hit one later in the inning to tie the game at 2. After the Pirates scored two runs in the sixth, the Braves took the lead on two-run homers by Jones and Lopez in the bottom of the inning.

It was his fourth multihomer game of the season, and the 16th of his career.

“I’ve never been in a streak like that in my life,” Lopez said. “It’s hard to explain the feeling at the plate. Everything I see, balls away, balls in, I’m seeing everything right in the middle.”

He left after the seventh with a sore wrist after a couple of foul tips bounced off it.

“I got hit twice in the same spot,” Lopez said. “It hurts when I throw. A couple of days off, it should be OK.”

He already has 18 homers this year after hitting only 11 in 2002. On Saturday night, Lopez hit a tiebreaking solo shot in the eighth inning during an 8-6 victory for Atlanta.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “It’s the darnedest thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s really something to see Javy doing so well. If anybody deserves it, it’s him.”

The Pirates closed to 6-5 in the eighth with two hits and a walk off Roberto Hernandez. But Ray King came on and got Kenny Lofton to line into a double play to Furcal to end the threat.

“That’s just the way it’s been going the last couple of games,” Lofton said. “I thought I hit it good, but Furcal got it.”

Trey Hodges (3-0) pitched two innings of one-hit ball in relief of Russ Ortiz, and John Smoltz finished for his 24th save in 25 chances.

Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games with two hits for the Pirates, including a run-scoring double in the fourth. Brian Giles went 2-for-2 with three walks and was 6-for-7 in the series.

Pittsburgh has lost five of six.

“They have just been incredible swinging the bat,” Pirates right fielder Reggie Sanders said of the Braves. “We scored some runs, something we hadn’t been doing, and every time we scored, they had an answer for it.”

The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Giles scored on a double by Ramirez, who later came home when Sanders singled.

After the Braves tied it in the fifth, Pittsburgh went ahead with two more in the sixth. With two on and no outs, Randall Simon hit a liner toward first baseman Robert Fick, who appeared to be screened by Ramirez. The ball got by Fick and rolled all the way to the right-field corner for a double, allowing Giles to score.

That brought in Hodges, who struck out Sanders for the first out and intentionally walked Jack Wilson to load the bases. Ramirez scored on a fielder’s choice by Abraham Nunez for a 4-2 lead.

Sheffield singled to lead off the sixth, and an out later, Jones hit a 417-drive to left-center to tie it at 4. Robert Fick singled and scored on the second homer by Lopez, who took a 1-1 pitch into the seats in left.

Earlier, after Lopez cut the lead to 2-1 with his first solo shot, Furcal lined a low pitch over the wall in right off Fogg for his career-high ninth home run.

Fogg went 5 1-3 innings and gave up six runs on nine hits, including all four homers.

“This one falls on me,” Fogg said. “I didn’t make pitches when I neededto. There’s no excuse other than bad pitching.”

Notes

Pittsburgh 1B Randall Simon made two fine fielding plays in the first three innings. In the first, he threw out Furcal at the plate after fielding a grounder, and then in the third, he threw out Ortiz at third. … Atlanta RF Gary Sheffield was hit by a pitch by RHP Julian Tavarez in the seventh and glared at Tavarez while slowly walking to first. He carried his bat the entireway and only relinquished it after reaching the bag.

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