Great day. It rained during the first inning and the game was delayed, and Jaret Wright was limited to five innings, in which he gave up two runs on five hits and a walk (six strikeouts). But the offense came back twice from a run down, taking the lead in the fifth, all against Kris Benson. Four relievers pitched a shutout inning each. And the Phillies lost.
Down 1-0 after the first, Andruw doubled home Estrada (all the way from first!), and down 2-1 in the fourth LaRoche doubled home Chipper. In the fifth, the Braves put together a little rally, Chipper giving them the lead with a sac fly and Estrada doubling home the fourth run.
Then the pen took over. Alfonseca got the Pirates in order. Gryboski allowed a two-out walk but that was all. Reitsma gave up a two-out single, but that was all. And Smoltz got them 1-2-3, striking out the last two. Final bullpen line: four innings, one hit, one walk, six strikeouts. Keep that up and the Braves will be in great shape.
The Phillies lost, as I said. The Mets are losing in spectacular fashion, 19-8, to the Expos. If that holds up, they’ll be six out; not dead, but not at all well. The Braves lead the division by 1 1/2, their biggest lead of the year. They’re eight games over .500, for the first time. They’re a game behind the Giants and Padres; with a good couple of days the rest of the division would be closer to the wildcard than the division lead.