The good Damian Moss showed up, throwing seven shutout innings (two hits, eight strikeouts) and got just enough support. The bad John Smoltz put in an appearance, giving up two runs in the ninth, but came in with a three run lead, and the Braves won 3-2. Gary Sheffield homered, Rafael Furcal had three hits and scored twice, and though Andruw Jones had a hitting streak broken he reached base three times.
The Braves should have scored more than three runs; they had twelve baserunners, eight on hits. But Vinny Castilla kept coming up with runners on base, hitting into a double play on one occasion and grounding out with two out and the bases loaded on another. Vinny will get a lot of RBI hitting sixth behind the Braves’ three outfielders because they all get on base (Sheffield, .357; Chipper, .415; Andruw, .401). And he winds up getting most of the credit, even though a decent hitter in that spot should have far more than 42 RBI. He makes a ton of outs (OBP: .278) and all the defense in the world doesn’t make up for that. He should be benched when DeRosa comes back, but we all know that won’t happen.
The Mets lost, the Marlins and Expos won; Florida is alone in second, five and a half out, with the other two six and a half back. Everybody’s off tomorrow; the Braves will play three against the Red Sox in Atlanta starting Friday. Just to make it extra special, the Sox are bringing their three best pitchers, Pedro, ex-Brave John Burkett, and Derek Lowe.