Braves 3, Mets 1

Preview | Box Score | Recap

ATLANTA (AP)—John Smoltz knew the Atlanta Braves had the hit-and-run on when Marcus Giles took a big lead and broke from second base in the sixth inning.

Staying out of a double play was important, so Smoltz figured his teammate would reach third easily when New York pitcher Pedro Martinez fielded Julio Franco’s soft grounder.

Instead, Smoltz was ecstatic to see Giles keep running and score standing up, the final run in the Braves’ 3-1 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night.

“That’s a huge run for a pitcher,” Smoltz said of the game’s final run. “When you’re battling, that run makes you feel like—I wish hitters could appreciate what a pitcher feels like because that run’s huge. He had it all the way. It was such a great play.”

Smoltz outpitched Martinez, and Andruw Jones drove in two runs as Atlanta got its second straight win over the Mets.

Facing Martinez for the third time this season, Smoltz (14-6) won his second straight in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners. Smoltz allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings, walking one and striking out two.

Atlanta, which began the night with a six-game lead in the NL East, improved to 11-4 against the Mets, who fell to 20-50 at Turner Field. The Braves have won five of six overall.

With Giles on second and Chipper Jones on first in the sixth, Martinez (13-7) fielded Franco’s grounder near the third base line and seemed to forget about Giles, who was running toward third.

Giles had already rounded third when Martinez, who had his back turned to the runner, turned to throw out Franco. As soon as the ball left Martinez’s hand, Giles scored easily.

“Obviously a double play is not in order with the runners going, so as a defender you’re thinking, ‘Get the runner out,”’ Giles said. “When the swinging bunt happened, I had it my mind that I was going home, hoping that Pedro didn’t get alerted that I was going.”

Franco, who was credited with an RBI groundout, is slow enough that Martinez could have held Giles at third and still gotten the 47-year-old Atlanta first baseman out.

“That really never happened to me before,” Martinez said. “I learned something different. Franco was running, and I knew I had to try to get him. I looked at the replay and the coach never sent (Giles). He just ran like somebody was chasing him.”

Martinez pitched six innings, allowing five hits and three runs for New York, which has lost six of seven.

“I never expected Giles to score like that,” Martinez said. “We are facing a smart team. Obviously, they are on top of their game.”

Rafael Furcal led off the Atlanta first with a ground-rule double, advanced to third on Giles’ fly to right and scored on Andruw Jones’ fielder’s choice.

In the third, Furcal reached on an infield single, moved to second on Giles’ walk and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice grounder by Chipper Jones. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Andruw Jones, who has a league-leading 114 RBIs.

Smoltz pitched out of trouble in the first three innings, stranding a baserunner at third each time.

“Facing a guy like Smoltz, you need to be as sharp as you can be,” Martinez said. “Give them credit. They got the double play when they needed it.”

Doug Mientkiewicz drove in New York’s first run with a groundout that scored Carlos Beltran to make it 2-1.

Chris Reitsma pitched the eighth for Atlanta and Kyle Farnsworth worked the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances with the Braves.

Martinez had gone 6-1 with 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts following a loss, but he dropped to 2-2 against Atlanta with a 2.26 ERA in four starts this year. Overall against the Braves, Martinez fell to 7-8 with a 3.30 ERA in 23 career appearances.

“They just scratch out runs,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said of the Braves. “They didn’t do anything dramatic. They put the ball in play and execute.”

Martinez was coming off an 8-2 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 31 when he tied a career-worst by allowing four homers.

Smoltz improved to 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against the Mets this


New York 2B Kaz Matsui is 7-for-14 with a double and two triples in his last four games. … Smoltz threw 109 pitches, 75 strikes. … Martinez threw 102 pitches, 64 strikes. … RHP Aaron Heilman held the Braves scoreless in the seventh and RHP Shingo Takatsu did the same in the eighth.

Related Articles