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Braves' Smoltz keeps rolling

Associated Press
Published July 2, 2005


PHILADELPHIA - John Smoltz was bothered by a sore hamstring, and he started to tire in the sticky air. Neither slowed him enough to give him trouble with the Phillies.

Smoltz won his fifth straight start and Andruw Jones and Kelly Johnson hit three-run homers to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 9-1 win over Philadelphia on Friday night.

Smoltz continued his run of brilliant starts, improving to 5-0 with three complete games in his past five. The right-hander, 38, went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in June with complete games in his last two starts.

Smoltz pitched a solid six innings this time, giving up one run and five hits while striking out seven.

"The only thing that made it easier was two great three-run homers," Smoltz said. "I probably didn't pitch my best, but I made the pitches when I had to."

After letting Smoltz pitch 431/3 innings in his past five starts, manager Bobby Cox decided to give him a short stint because of a tender left hamstring and a humid night. Smoltz said he hurt the hamstring a couple of starts ago and pitched through it until Friday, when he said it "zapped him."

"Thankfully, I had my slider because that was the pitch that bailed me out," he said.

He mastered the fading Phillies, who lost for the 12th time in 16 games and fell to .500 for the first time since June 2.

Atlanta snapped a tie at 1 with a three-run fourth against struggling starter Vicente Padilla.

After Padilla retired the first two, Rafael Furcal singled, Pete Orr reached on a fielders' choice and Johnson hit his fifth homer of the season into the rightfield seats.

Padilla gave up nine hits and four runs in four innings and lost his third straight start.

"We have to get him going," manager Charlie Manuel said.

METS 7, MARLINS 6: Chris Woodward hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth as host New York won despite blowing a late three-run lead.

With the score tied at 6, former Devil Ray Marlon Anderson led off the eighth for the Mets with a double over centerfielder Juan Pierre. He advanced on Ramon Castro's sacrifice and scored on Woodward's single off ex-Ray Jim Mecir to put the Mets back in front.

Mike Cameron homered to lead off the seventh and put the Mets ahead 6-3, but New York's shaky bullpen couldn't protect it in the eighth.

Paul Lo Duca singled, Juan Encarnacion walked and Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run double off Aaron Heilman. Gonzalez scored to tie it at 6 when Luis Castillo's two-out single went off ex-Rays closer Roberto Hernandez's glove.

NATIONALS 4, CUBS 3: Livan Hernandez tied a franchise record by winning his 11th straight decision, allowing three runs on 10 hits in eight innings to lead visiting Washington.

Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen, the former Ray, hit his 16th homer in the first inning, and Brian Schneider was 3-for-5 with two doubles and helped preserve a one-run lead by picking off the potential tying run at third base with one out in the eighth.

GIANTS 3, PADRES 2: Todd Linden scored on Khalil Greene's throwing error with one out in the eighth to give visiting San Francisco its fourth straight win. The Giants won the series opener against the West leaders after sweeping three at Arizona, which is in second place in baseball's weakest division. The Giants are fourth, eight games behind the Padres, who have lost three of four.

ASTROS 10, REDS 7: Flattened by a fastball that barely missed his head, Morgan Ensberg got up and hit the next pitch into the upper deck for a three-run homer to lead visiting Houston. Ensberg, one of the majors' best hitters in June, also had two doubles and has 11 homers and 32 RBIs since June 1.

CARDINALS 6, ROCKIES 0: Chris Carpenter carried a five-hitter into the eighth and became the majors' fourth 12-game winner for host St. Louis. Albert Pujols homered in the first to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, and Carpenter had a sacrifice fly for the Cardinals, who rebounded from a shutout loss.

BREWERS 8, PIRATES 4: Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh to give host Milwaukee a come-from-behind victory.