Braves 9, Expos 8, 12 innings

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ATLANTA (AP)—John Smoltz was sorry he didn’t save a win for Jose Capellan in the rookie’s major league debut.

Long after Capellan’s exit, Andruw Jones hit a winning double in the 12th inning Sunday to lead the Atlanta Braves over the Montreal Expos 9-8.

“He threw great,” said Smoltz, who blew a three-run lead in the ninth. “He held his composure. He has a bright future. I’m very disappointed that I couldn’t get him his first win.”

Smoltz, who failed to convert a save for the fourth time in 41 chances, had an 8-5 lead but gave up run-scoring singles to Endy Chavez, Terrmel Sledge and Juan Rivera.

“That’s just the worst showing,” Smoltz said. “I never would have dreamed it possible. And now that I’ve got that over with and out of the way, I’m not going to talk about it any more.”

With the score still tied in the 12th, Thomas led off with a sharp grounder that shortstop Alex Gonzalez bobbled for an error. Jones followed with a drive off Luis Ayala (5-10) that bounced to the wall in left-center.

“He just left a pitch over the plate and I had good wood on it,” Jones said.

Atlanta, closing in on its 13th straight division title, swept the three-game series and leads the NL East by 8 1/2 games.

“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities to score the whole series,” Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. “Every time we scored, they scored, the entire series. … We battled back the whole series. We just couldn’t get over the top.”

Juan Cruz (6-2), Atlanta’s eighth pitcher, allowed one hit in two innings for the win.

Eddie Perez, Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones homered for the Braves. Perez went 4-for-4 and Furcal had three hits.

Tony Batista and Sledge each had a home run, three hits and three RBIs for the Expos.

“Individual stats will come,” Sledge said. “It would be much better if we could come out with a victory.”

Capellan, a 23-year-old right-hander, gave up two runs, four hits and three walks in five innings and struck out four but was denied the win when the Braves bullpen gave up six runs. Capellan, 14-4 with a 2.32 ERA in the minor leagues this year, was clocked as fast as 99 mph but needed 111 pitches to get through the five innings—33 in the first inning alone.

“It just shows you the gap between the minor leagues and the major leagues,” Robinson said.

Capellan had to rely on his fastball because he couldn’t throw his curveball consistently for strikes.

“He was nervous,” Perez said. “I think that’s why he didn’t throw his breaking pitch more. When I went out to the mound, he was shaking.”

Montreal starter Tony Armas Jr. gave up five runs—four earned—five hits and four walks in 3 2-3 innings.


Furcal has led off the first with home runs 11 times, including twice this season. … Armas threw 97 pitches in 3 2-3 innings. … Chavez had two steals, increasing his total to 27 for the season. His previous career high was 18 last year. … The Braves begin a five-game series at the New York Mets with a doubleheader Monday night, while the Expos will play at least the first two games of a scheduled five-game series with Florida in Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, games moved from Miami because of the threat of rain caused by Hurricane Ivan.

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