ATLANTA (AP)—Jim Thome is beginning to feel good.
Thome went 3-for-4 in Philadelphia’s last game, an 8-5 win over Florida on Wednesday.
“The three hits the other night may have set the table,” Thome said. “It gets your confidence back. The main thing is just to get into a groove, get my timing back. Obviously, the home run with guys on is big. That’s why you hit in the middle of the order.”
It was only the second home run of the season for Thome. The slugging first baseman, who had 42 homers last season and 47 in 2003, came off the disabled list on Saturday after missing 19 games with a lower back strain.
“His power is still there. It hasn’t gone anywhere,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Thome’s only other home run came on April 21 in a 6-3 victory over Colorado. He is on a pace to hit fewer than 10 home runs for the season.
“I hope not,” a smiling Thome said. “Home runs come in bunches. You don’t try to hit them, but when they come, they come in bunches.
“The main thing is just getting into a groove, get my timing back, get into a rhythm. I’m getting it back, something I’ve been working hard at,” said Thome, a career .284 hitter with 425 home runs.
Thome was 1-for-13 in his first four games after returning from the DL. He was 1-for-4 Friday, struck out twice after his 412-foot homer, and is hitting .210 this season.
“He’s a threat no matter if he’s hitting .200 or .300,” Smoltz said.
Phillies starter Cory Lidle (5-3), who pitched a complete game in his previous start, went 6 2-3 innings. He gave up six hits, one run, walked two and struck out seven.
Philadelphia is 6-1 in Lidle’s last seven starts.
The four runs off Smoltz (3-4) quickly ended a 19-inning scoreless streak by Atlanta pitchers that included 4-0 and 3-0 wins in the last two games of a three-game series sweep of the New York Mets.
Smoltz gave up four straight hits to open the game. Jimmy Rollins led off with a single, took third on a single by Placido Polanco and scored on another single by Bobby Abreu. Thome then hit his towering drive over the center field wall for a 4-0 lead.
“Abreu set the whole thing up,” Smoltz said. “I hadn’t given up a home run since the third game of the year. That (facing Thome) was the last thing I thought about.”
Smoltz then held Philadelphia scoreless before leaving after six innings. He allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out six.
Smoltz, who lost his first three starts, was 3-0 in his last seven outings and had not lost since April 16, a 2-1 loss to the Phillies.
Thome’s homer in the first off Smoltz ended a 47-inning homerless streak by the Atlanta righty. … Smoltz had six strikeouts for 2,453 in his career, tying Sam McDowell for No. 31 on the all-time strikeout list. … Furcal, who went 3-for-4, stole two bases to tie Houston’s Willy Taveras for the NL lead at 16. … Philadelphia outfielder Pat Burrell did not start, resting a sore left wrist he injured against Baltimore last weekend.