Chipper returned to the lineup, and on the first pitch he saw hit a two-out solo homer to give the Braves the lead. He walked in the seventh. He normally would have scored on Johnny Estrada’s double, but he still can’t run well and held at third, only coming home on a double by LaRoche. The latter also doubled home Estrada in the first, accounting for three of the Braves’ RBIs. The fifth was by Andruw, a solo homer in the fourth, but of course we know Andruw’s homers don’t count if the Braves have the lead.
The 4-5 hitters both had big days. Estrada was 2-3 with a walk and the two runs scored,
Langerhans LaRoche 3-4. Andruw, hitting sixth, went 2-3 with a walk and is now up to .247. Furcal also had two hits and a walk; the lone Braves starter not to get a hit was Marcus, who wound up 0-5 and is in a deep slump. I’m not one to subscribe to protection theory, but Marcus’ slump more or less coincides with Chipper’s injury.
Tim Hudson took a shutout to the eighth but tired — he wound up throwing 119 pitches, which despite what Sutton said is probably too many, at least in a day game. He was charged with both runs, one of them earned, struck out five, allowed just five hits and one walk. Reitsma allowed an inherited run but then got the next two men to end the eighth. Kolb started off with seven balls in his first eight pitches, including a wild pitch, but rallied back to get a strikeout, a flyout, and a groundout for the save. He still isn’t going to succeed unless his control gets better.
Back in a virtual tie for first, the Braves now host the Astros for four, beginning with Thomson versus Brandon Backe. It’s a rematch of Game Three of the division series last year, or at least the start of it; Thomson left after two batters, which in retrospect cost the Braves the series and the season.