Braves 6, Padres 5

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—After a dramatic victory over the San Diego Padres, the Atlanta Braves reacted with uncharacteristic emotion.

Andruw Jones put Atlanta ahead with hit a two-run homer off Trevor Hoffman in the ninth inning and Marcus Giles threw out the potential tying run at the plate for the final out as the Braves staged a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.

Closer John Smoltz pumped his fist and the rest of the Braves, the NL East leaders, rushed the field after the final out.

“That was not your typical game,” Smoltz said. “This was a big game. To end the game like that is an emotional rush. I don’t care if you’ve been in the league 25 years or this is your second. If you can’t get emotional after that, you’re not human.”

Atlanta maintained its eight-game cushion over Florida, which beat another of the NL’s top closers when the Marlins rallied for four runs in the ninth off Eric Gagne and beat Los Angeles 6-4.

The Braves received a huge lift from Jones, who hit a 2-1 cut fastball from Hoffman into dead center field for a 6-5 lead. Julio Franco led off the inning with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Charles Thomas before Jones got the better of Hoffman (2-3), who blew his fourth save in 35 chances.

“I was just looking for a pitch to drive and I didn’t miss,” Jones said. “When a guy like that makes a mistake, you have to take advantage of it. You never know when he’ll make another.”

But it took a great defensive play by both J.D. Drew and Giles to seal the win.

Smoltz, who got his 31st save in 33 chances, quickly got the first two outs. But a walk to Mark Loretta brought up Brian Giles, who hit a shot down the right-field line. The ball went into the corner, where the odd dimensions usually produce difficult bounces.

But Drew was able to barehand the ball cleanly off the wall, then throw a perfect strike to Marcus Giles in short-right field. Giles threw home to Eddie Perez, who had plenty of time to tag out Loretta.

“You have to be aggressive in that situation,” Drew said. “You have to go in there hard. If it goes down there and gets by me, they tie the score.”

Brian Giles was credited with a double on the play, extending to his streak of reaching base safely to 11 plate appearances.

“We just looked at it on film and he made a great play,” Brian Giles said of Drew. “It had some hair on it, bouncing off the wall there.”

Giles finished 3-for-3 with a double, triple, home run and two walks. After going 3-for-30 on a just-completed road trip, Giles was 8-for-10 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored and four walks in the three-game series.

“He was the last person I wanted to see up there,” Marcus Giles said about his older brother. “When he gets hot, he’s one of the toughest outs.”

Chris Reitsma (5-3) pitched one inning for the win.

The Padres remained 6 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and fell 1 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the wild-card race.

“This time of the season, these games are huge,” Hoffman said. “For the guys to battle back and for me to come in and lose it, it’s frustrating.”

Loretta and Brian Giles hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches for San Diego, which tied it at 3 in the fifth. The Padres took a 5-3 lead the next inning on Khalil Greene’s sacrifice fly and Ramon Hernandez’s RBI single.

Chipper Jones, who homered in five straight games to tie the Braves’ franchise record, was pulled from the starting lineup due to a migraine. Jones pinch hit in the eighth and pulled the Braves within a run on a sacrifice fly off Scott Linebrink.

Loretta hit a two-out solo homer off Paul Byrd, and Giles connected on the next pitch to tie it.

The Padres scored twice in the sixth after Ryan Klesko led off with a walk and Sean Burroughs hit a grounder to Marcus Giles at second. Giles attempted a backhanded throw to shortstop Rafael Furcal to force Klesko at second, but the throw sailed over Furcal’s head into left field, allowing the runners to take an extra base.

Greene followed with a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead. Kevin Gryboski then came in and gave up an RBI single to Hernandez.

The Braves scored three runs in the fourth after Franco led off with a double and went to third on Andruw Jones’ infield single. Eli Marrero drove in one run with a single. Johnny Estrada then hit a one-hop grounder back to pitcher David Wells, it looked as though it would be a double play. But when Wells fumbled the ball, the runners advanced as he threw out Estrada.

Mark DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly to score Jones, and Byrd made it 3-1 with a single.

Giles gave the Padres a 1-0 lead in the first with a one-out triple that scored Loretta.


The Braves won the series 2-1, and are 13-1-2 in their last 16 series. … Freddy Guzman, who made his major league debut Monday night, stole his first base. Guzman had 65 steals in 101 games in the minors this season.

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