I would say Javy Lopez was rejuvenated, but he was never this good in the first place. He hit two more homers, including a two-run shot to give the Braves their first lead in the sixth. His 18 homers put him first on the team and third in the league. He’s slugging .736, which would lead the majors if he had enough plate appearances. Andruw homered for the second day in a row, and Furcal set a career high with his ninth homer. Don’t look now, but the Braves lead the majors with 98 homers. The NL record for team homers is 249; the Braves are on pace to hit 260. But it’s way too early to be talking about that.
Russ Ortiz had another shaky outing, four runs on five hits and four walks, only two strikeouts. He was getting ahead of the hitters for the most part but couldn’t finish them off. He left with runners at second and third and one out, but Trey Hodges got out of the situation with only one run scoring, then got the win when the Braves rallied behind Andruw’s and Javy’s homers.
After Hodges pitched the seventh, the Braves led 6-4 and only had to get through one inning to get to Smoltz. Surely Bobby wouldn’t — OH NO, HERE HE COMES! Yes, it’s Boom-Boom Bobby Hernandez, on to “set up” for Smoltz. He got ex-Brave Randall Simon (the Pirates also had Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders in the lineup) leading off. But then double, walk, single, it’s 6-5 with runners at the corners, one out. Bobby finally went and got Boom-Boom, but even with a day off tomorrow didn’t bring in Smoltz, probably because the pitcher’s spot was due up third and Bobby’s forgotten how to do a double switch again.
In comes Gryboski, wild pitch but Blanco (in for “defense”, or because Javy was hit in the arm by a foul ball early in the game) kept it in front of him. Second and third, walk. Bases loaded. Surely Smoltz would pitch now! Nope, Ray King, who allows a scorcher to Lofton that luckily was right at Furcal who catches it and trots to second for the DP. And then Smoltz got the “save” even though the real action was in the eighth. Sigh.
Anyway, this year’s Road Trip Of Death starts Tuesday. Three in Oakland, three in Seattle, three in Philadelphia.