Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Braves 5, Pirates 1



By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer

        ATLANTA — Greg Maddux is feeling stronger, and for the first time in a month he knows what it feels like to win.

        Maddux pitched eight strong innings for his first win since Aug. 1 and the Atlanta Braves won their fourth in a row, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 Monday.

        “I've felt much better my last few starts,” said Maddux, who's been hampered by various ailments much of the season. “My back stopped hurting. My calf stopped hurting. I'm just getting in better shape.”

        Maddux (12-5) allowed seven hits and also sparked a three-run rally in the third, singling up the middle and scoring Atlanta's first run on a wild pitch.

        Chipper Jones hit his 22nd homer for the Braves, who lost two of three at Pittsburgh last week during their longest road trip of the season. They bounced back with a sweep at Montreal over the weekend.

        “The first nine games of that road trip, we really stunk it up,” Jones said. “Maybe now that we've got our intensity back and the strike is behind us, we'll take back off.”

        Maddux had gone 0-2 with two no-decisions in his previous four starts. He didn't pitch poorly during that stretch, allowing 10 earned runs in 28 innings, but his teammates scored only eight runs.

        Maddux was making his second straight against the Pirates, having worked nine shutout innings last Wednesday. Brian Giles hit an RBI single off Mike Remlinger in the 10th to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 victory.

        “A lot of times, winning and losing is out of the pitcher's control,” Maddux said. “You can control the effort you put into the game. If you do that, the wins will come.”

        Giles led off the second with his 33rd homer into the right-center seats. This time, one run wasn't enough for the Pirates.

        Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said his team had its chances to put up more runs against Maddux in the first few innings.

        “I thought his stuff was up early,” McClendon said. “He didn't have his command early. But he settled down. He hit his spots. He was pretty sharp.”

        The Braves broke through in the third against Brian Meadows (1-4), who was one strike away from getting out of the inning without any runs scoring.

        “That's just one of the unfortunate things that happen when you're not getting the breaks,” Meadows said. “They hit the ball in the right place at the right time. Things like that are why the Braves win every year.”

        Maddux singled with one out and went to third on Rafael Furcal's double off the right-field wall. After Darren Bragg was called out on strikes, Chipper Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases.

        Meadows got two quick strikes on Andruw Jones, then threw a curve that bounced about two feet in front of catcher Jason Kendall. The ball skipped all the way to the backstop, and Maddux slid across home with the tying run.

        Jones worked the count to 3-2 before looping a liner to left. Giles made a diving attempt, but the ball skipped under his glove for a two-run double.

        “Chipper has been swinging really well, so they took a chance with me,” said Andruw Jones, who was batting just .192 in his last 219 at-bats. “(Meadows) could've walked me. He threw me a curve that was in the dirt, but I hit it.”

        Chipper Jones homered with two outs in the fifth. The Braves added an unearned run in the sixth when Maddux's grounder was booted by first baseman Craig Wilson, allowing Julio Franco to trot home.

        Maddux escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third, pitching around second baseman Keith Lockhart's error. Aramis Ramirez popped out to short to end the inning.

        Meadows went six innings, giving up seven hits and four earned runs. He has a 3.16 ERA but only one win in seven starts since coming up from the minors on July 31.

        “I thought Brian did a pretty decent job, considering he kept us in the ballgame,” McClendon said.

        Notes: Pirates RF Armando Rios was abruptly removed after the second inning. McClendon wouldn't discuss the move, saying merely, “I took him out of the game because I'm the manager.” Rios never came to his locker after the game. ... Maddux had a season-high seven strikeouts. ... The Braves drew 30,803 in their first home game since baseball's labor agreement was reached Friday. ... Atlanta will have four new players on Tuesday. RHP Kevin Gryboski, RHP Trey Hodges, IF Jesse Garcia and C Steve Torrealba were recalled from Triple-A Richmond. ... Pittsburgh called up RHP Salomon Torres to start Tuesday's game. He hasn't pitched in the majors since July 20, 1997, with Montreal.

       



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