Braves 7, Expos 5

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ATLANTA (AP)—Chipper Jones needed a confidence boost, and so did Mike Hampton. They each got one at the expense of the Montreal Expos.

Jones hit two home runs, and Hampton bounced back from two shaky starts to lead the Atlanta Braves past the Expos 7-5 on Sunday.

Hampton also had two hits, including his first homer of the season, as the Braves won for the third time in the four-game series. Javy Lopez had a two-run single in the fifth inning to give Atlanta the lead for good.

Jones, in a 14-for-58 slump, hit two home runs in a game for the first time this season, the 27th time of his career.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “My confidence was waning a little bit. I’ve been starting to get comfortable, and for five at-bats, I felt in control the whole time.”

Hampton (4-5), who won for only the second time in 10 starts, was coming off a 20-1 loss to Florida in which he allowed nine runs and 10 hits in four innings. He had a 13.00 ERA in his previous two starts.

But he went seven innings in this one despite a 24-minute rain delay after the fourth inning, and he retired 12 of his last 15 batters. He gave up nine hits and was charged with all four runs.

“I threw a lot of strikes and I was able to locate pretty well,” Hampton said. “And the biggest thing was later in the game, using my breaking ball a little more. I relied on my fastball the first three or four innings; later on, I was able to mix in my forkball.”

John Smoltz gave up a solo home run to Michael Barrett in the ninth, but finished for his 32nd save in 34 chances.

Smoltz was among seven Atlanta players selected for the All-Star game in Chicago on July 15, two more than any other team. Catcher Javy Lopez, second baseman Marcus Giles and outfielder Gary Sheffield were elected as starters, and shortstop Rafael Furcal, outfielder Andruw Jones and pitcher Russ Ortiz were also selected.

Braves manager Bobby Cox was ejected in the third inning for apparently arguing a balk call against Hampton, the seventh time this season Cox has been tossed.

Henry Mateo went 4-for-5 with four singles for Montreal, setting a career high for hits in a game.

“You do what you have to do,” Mateo said. “When you get four hits, you figure your team will win the game.”

A solo shot by Hampton in the fourth—the 11th home run of his career—cut Montreal’s lead to 4-3, and the Braves scored two runs in the fifth to take the lead.

Tim Drew (0-1), making his first start of the year, walked the bases loaded, and Lopez lined a single that brought home Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones.

In the sixth, Hampton led off with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chipper Jones.

“I felt good, but I gave up two home runs,” said Drew, the younger brother of St. Louis outfielder J.D. Drew. “Then I walked two guys and gave up a base hit. You can’t do that at this level.”

Montreal scored three runs in the third to take the lead, helped by the balk against Hampton. With one out, Mateo singled and moved to second when plate umpire Phil Cuzzi called a balk on Hampton.

Cox came out of the dugout to argue, but left relatively quickly. Jamey Carroll then singled to bring home Mateo with the first run of the game, and Cox said something from the dugout. Cuzzi turned and threw Cox out of the game, bringing Cox back on the field for more discussion.

It’s the first time this season Cox has been ejected at Turner Field.

“It was a routine throw over,” Cox said. “We thought they were going to hit and run so we threw over back-to-back. It was not a pickoff move. It was no balk. It was absolutely no balk.”

Carroll later moved to second on a single by Ron Calloway, and they both scored on a double by Joe Vitiello.

Chipper Jones cut the lead to 3-2 with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the third, hitting a 406-foot drive into the seats in right. Mateo singled home Barrett in the fourth to give the Expos a 4-2 lead.

“They don’t make mistakes, and we made too many mistakes,” Barrett said.“We need to be able to make a couple more pitches to get out of jams.”


Chipper Jones’ previous two-homer game was last Sept. 11 against the New York Mets. … The game was stopped after the fourth inning, even though the rain appeared to be waning. The grounds crew brought out the tarp to cover the infield, but when the sun peeked out of the clouds, the tarp was removed. … Montreal OF Brad Wilkerson struck out four times, including three againstHampton.

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