Braves 5, Dodgers 1
ATLANTA (AP)—Mike Hampton isn’t too proud of his record.
But at least he got the first win out of the way.
Hampton (1-5) snapped the worst start of his career despite giving up nine hits and walking two. He pitched out of two bases-loaded jams.
“It’s big,” said Hampton, who won for the first time since Sept. 17, 2003. “The stat sheet still looks pretty ugly, but you can’t win your second without that first win.”
Coincidentally, Hampton also homered in his last win. He now has 13 homers in his career—the most among active pitchers.
“I don’t care about the win. I’m just glad he didn’t out-homer me,” quipped Chipper Jones, who added a two-run homer. “He can hold that over a lot of people’s heads in here, but not mine.”
Rookie Nick Green, filling in for injured second baseman, continued his strong play by driving in Atlanta’s other two runs.
The Braves made two errors, but made up for it with several outstanding defensive plays.
Jones threw out Paul Lo Duca at the plate in the third. Hampton snared two liners back to the mound, including a catch just above the ground with the bases loaded in the fifth that led to an inning-ending double play. Andruw Jones made a diving catch on Jose Hernandez’s liner to left-center in the sixth.
“Andruw made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “I know I say it every time, but I didn’t think he had a chance on that ball.”
Despite Jones’ catch, the Dodgers loaded the bases again with one out. But Hampton retired his final two hitters, striking out pinch-hitter Orlando Saenz and getting Cesar Izturis on a grounder to second that preserved a 5-0 lead.
“Next time, I’m going to tell him the bases are loaded every inning before he goes out there,” catcher Eddie Perez said.
Hampton has pitched well in his last two starts. He went the distance against Arizona on Tuesday, giving up just two runs, only to become an afterthought when Randy Johnson threw the 17th perfect game in major league history.
“I didn’t think I had been throwing the ball that poorly. It was always one big inning or one big hit,” Hampton said. “I was due for some good luck. I got some today.”
This one wasn’t close to perfect. The Dodgers outhit the Braves 13-10, but stranded 13 runners.
“When you get one run and 13 hits, you have a definite indication of what our problem is,” manager Jim Tracy said. “We continued to squander chances all day long.”
Atlanta went ahead in the second after Wilson Alvarez (2-1) walked the first two hitters. Green drove in the run with a double to the left-center gap.
Green came through again in the fourth with an RBI single to center. The rookie has played well since being called up from Triple-A Richmond, batting .360 (9-for-25) with a five-game hitting streak.
After Green was thrown out trying to steal second, Hampton hit the next pitch deep into the left-field seats—a 406-foot drive.
“I was looking fastball,” he said. “I was able to catch it a little early.”
Jones homered for the second time in three games, hitting his two-run shot in the fifth when Alvarez hung an 0-2 changeup.
Alvarez, making his fourth start after beginning the season in the bullpen, was lifted for a pinch hitter after the fifth. He gave up seven hits and three walks.
“I couldn’t throw my changeup for strikes,” Alvarez said. “That’s what got me in trouble.”
Atlanta shortstop Rafael Furcal made his first start since May 1, when he jammed his right ring finger making a headfirst slide. He was able to pinch-hit and pinch-run, but the sore finger made it difficult for him to grip the ball.
Furcal bounced a throw to first for an error on the first ball that came hisway, but was flawless the rest of the game.
Furcal didn’t have much success at the plate, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. … Alvarez has given up six homers in his last two starts. … Jose Lima pitched two scoreless innings for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA to 3.24 in 10 relief appearances. In three starts, he gave up 11 runs in 13innings (7.62). … The Dodgers lost for the ninth time in 10 games.