Braves 7, Expos 1

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MONTREAL (AP)—Paul Byrd knew he was in trouble the moment he thought about throwing a shutout.

Byrd held the Montreal Expos scoreless into the eighth before leaving, and Eli Marrero homered to help the Atlanta Braves extend their winning streak to four games with a 7-1 victory over the Montreal Expos on Friday night.

Byrd (6-4), who missed all of 2003 and the first portion of this season after Tommy John surgery, hasn’t thrown a shutout since July 13, 2002, when he was with Kansas City. He entered the eighth inning with a two-hitter, and that’s when the thought of blanking the Expos crossed his mind.

Maicer Izturis led off with a triple and quickly scored on pinch-hitter Ryan Church’s RBI grounder.

“That’s what happens when you think about a shutout,” Byrd said. “You give up a triple and it’s over as soon as you think about it. A little lesson in that.”

Byrd allowed four hits, struck out five and walked two.

“He looks really good,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s pitched great for me. He hasn’t pitched a bad game yet. He’s sneaky quick. He knows how to change speeds and he can locate, and he’s tough to hit.”

J.D. Drew hit an RBI single in the third to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The Braves finished with nine hits, ending a streak of 12 straight games with 10 or more.

“I don’t think much about hitting streaks,” Drew said. “You’ve just got to try to get on base for those guys behind you and let them drive you in, so it’s working out well.”

Atlanta scored twice off Scott Downs (2-5) with two out in the third. Rafael Furcal hit a two-out single and scored on Marcus Giles’ RBI double. Drew’s run-scoring single made it 2-0.

Marrero hit his ninth homer with one out in the fourth and the Braves chased Downs during a four-run seventh.

“When you don’t score runs you’re not going to win ballgames,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “And when you don’t have a very good ballgame pitching-wise, defensive-wise, and hitting-wise, you’re not going to beat the Braves.”

Left-hander Joe Horgan walked Drew with one out to load the bases and Chipper Jones laced a grounder off third baseman Tony Batista’s glove for a run-scoring infield single.

Julio Franco drew a bases-loaded walk off T.J. Tucker to increase the lead to 6-0 and Andruw Jones drove in the Braves’ seventh run with a sacrifice fly.

Downs allowed seven hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Edmonton on Aug. 26.

Notes

Byrd’s previous longest outing of the season was 7 1-3 innings in a 6-2 win in Arizona on Aug. 7. … The Expos have been shut out in consecutive games three times this season, including a three-game series in Florida from April 13-15 when they were outscored 17-0 overall.

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