Teixeira, Smoltz power Braves past Diamondbacks 6-2
ATLANTA (AP)—John Smoltz wasn’t content with 12 strikeouts, a Braves franchise record and a lead through eight innings. He wanted more, telling manager Bobby Cox he was in a groove.
Smoltz gave up only five hits and two runs and Mark Teixeira drove in four runs with two homers as the Braves slowed down the Diamondbacks.
Smoltz, 40, passed Phil Niekro as the Braves’ franchise strikeout leader. He set a season high for strikeouts.
Smoltz called the team record “an honor that I’ll think about later,” but Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said the record “is a huge milestone.”
“Knucksie’s one of the icons of the Braves organization,” Jones said. “For John to pass him, he’s pretty jacked up about it. It’s another cool achievement in a very long career.”
Arizona’s Orlando Hudson said Smoltz was “unbelievable.”
“He’s just dynamic,” Hudson said. “He throws strikes. He’s a handful.”
Smoltz threw 118 pitches but still lobbied for the chance for the complete game.
“He said ‘I’m perfectly fine. I’m strong. I’m great. I’m in a groove,”’ said Cox, who opted for caution in not pushing Smoltz, who has pitched with a sore shoulder at times this season.
“We have always talked about the danger pitches, once you get over 115 pitches,” Smoltz said. “I just wanted to because I was feeling so good. But he made the wiser choice.”
Yunel Escobar added a homer as the Braves scored six runs on seven hits— each for extra bases—in the first four innings.
Wickman got Hudson to ground out with the bases loaded in the ninth to end it.
The Braves snapped Arizona’s four-game winning streak. The Diamondbacks won the first two games against the Braves and have won 10 of 11 series since the All-Star break.
“It was very much a must-win and I approached it that way,” Smoltz said.
Smoltz (11-6) has a 3.05 ERA overall but only two wins since June. His 12 strikeouts are his high since fanning 15 New York Mets batters on April 10, 2005.
“Smoltz has been kind of a tough-luck loser the last couple of starts,” Teixeira said. “We haven’t gotten him a lot of support. For us to come here and score some runs early, he was great.”
Smoltz began the day four behind Niekro’s 2,912 strikeouts with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. Smoltz passed Niekro by striking out Mark Reynolds to end the third inning.
He received an ovation as the record was announced, and he tipped his cap to the fans as he entered the dugout.
Teixeira hit two-run homers in the first and third innings, giving him seven in 17 games with Atlanta and 20 for the season.
“The thing about me is I don’t have any pressure on me,” Teixeira said. “This lineup is so good, the players around me are so good that I can just go out there and be myself.”
Yusmeiro Petit (2-4) gave up three homers and six runs in 3 2-3 innings. He was recalled from Triple-A Tucson for his ninth start for Arizona.
The Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead when Young led off the game with a single and scored on Hudson’s double to right. Young led off the third with a double and scored from third on a delayed double steal after Hudson, who walked, took off for second base.
Niekro, who also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland and Toronto, is 10th on the all-time list with 3,342 strikeouts. … Smoltz struck out 10 or more for the 42nd time in his career. He also struck out 11 against Cincinnati on July 18. … Teixeira hit two or more homers in a game for the 17th time in his career and the second time this season. He hit two homers for Texas at Houston on May 20.