Braves 1, Marlins 0

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ATLANTA (AP)—Mike Hampton’s knee passed a crucial test with only a twinge of pain.

Mark DeRosa wasn’t so fortunate.

One night after Atlanta clinched its 13th straight division title, Hampton gave the Braves another reason to celebrate with seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Florida Marlins on Saturday.

The Braves managed only two hits, but backup outfielder Dewayne Wise homered off Carl Pavano in the seventh for the lone run.

Hampton (12-9) made his first start since Sept. 11, when he tore cartilage in his left knee while pitching against Montreal. The left-hander will need surgery to repair the damage, but he’s trying to make it through the season first.

After taking two weeks off, Hampton looked like he’ll be ready to go in the playoffs. He allowed just three hits and didn’t walk anyone.

“I could definitely tell it’s not 100 percent,” Hampton said. “But I made a concentrated effort not to change anything. I just wanted to go out there and pitch, put the knee out of my mind.”

While Hampton’s performance was encouraging, DeRosa was likely lost for the season with a knee injury of his own in the sixth.

When Pavano hit a high chopper into the hole, DeRosa barehanded the ball but landed awkwardly on his right leg as he turned to throw.

The shortstop collapsed to the grass, writhing in pain and holding his knee, and had to be taken off the field on a cart. The initial diagnosis was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which would require surgery.

“He said it felt like it exploded,” manager Bobby Cox said. “It’s not good.”

Normally a backup, DeRosa started in place of Rafael Furcal. The Braves gave most of their regulars the night off after clinching the NL East with an 8-7 victory over the Marlins on Friday.

The defending World Series champions are virtually eliminated from playoff contention. Florida has lost a season-high five in a row, falling eight games behind the Chicago Cubs in the wild-card race with eight remaining.

Pavano (17-8) missed a chance to set a Florida record for wins in a season. He retired the first 13 batters in the makeshift Atlanta lineup and was cruising along until the seventh.

Wise fell behind 1-2 in the count, then hit a fastball into the second row of the right-field seats for his fourth homer of the season.

“I said it would be won by a home run,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “A home run always wins that kind of game. I didn’t think it would be Wise.”

Travis Smith, Tom Martin and Chris Reitsma combined with Hampton on a four-hitter that took 1 hour, 58 minutes to complete—the shortest game of the year for both teams.

Reitsma got the final two outs for his second save, also setting a Braves’ record with his 82nd appearance of the season.

“One pitch cost me the ballgame,” Pavano said. “You can’t count on anything from their pitchers.”

Wise, batting just .219, hit his first homer for Atlanta since June 2. He’s split time between the Braves and Triple-A Richmond this season.

“Early in the game, he was throwing a lot of sinkers away,” Wise said. “That last time, he threw me a fastball over the inside corner and I was able to turn on it.”

Chipper Jones, who needs seven RBIs to reach 100 for the ninth straight season, was the only everyday player in the Atlanta lineup.

No one reached base until Florida’s Juan Pierre led off the fourth with a bunt single—his 205th hit of the season, breaking his own club record set in 2003. Pierre was thrown out attempting to steal.

Pavano didn’t give up a hit until the fifth, when Adam LaRoche hit a liner that ricocheted off the top of shortstop Alex Gonzalez’s glove and carried on into left field.

“That’s the way it goes,” McKeon said. “When we get good pitching, we get no hitting. When we get good hitting, we don’t get good pitching.”

The Braves wasted no time acknowledging their latest division title. Before the game, the team showed highlights from each championship season on the video board. Then, closer John Smoltz helped unveil a 2004 pennant on the facade above the left-field stands.


Hampton has pitched 14 straight scoreless innings, a streak encompassing his last three starts. … Pierre was caught stealing for the 23rd time, a figure more than twice as high as anyone else’s in the NL. He’s second in the league with 43 stolen bases. … The crowd of 42,772 was the largest at Turner Field since Aug. 14. … DeRosa will undergo an MRI on Monday.

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