A big game from the middle infielders, eight strong innings from Smoltz, the Braves won again, and rumors flying around. Just another July day.
The Braves took an early lead, 2-0, as Furcal doubled and Giles singled in the first. Chipper singled Furcal home, and Andruw (who had a rough day otherwise) hit a sac fly to score Marcus. It stayed 2-0 until the fourth, which was One Of Those Innings, as the Pirates scored three runs despite hitting only one ball hard.
Then Furcal took over. He tied the game with a solo homer leading off the fifth, and then gave the Braves the lead with a solo homer from the other side leading off the seventh. Marcus, who was 4-4, doubled after each homer, but was stranded the first time. The second time, though, Chipper had an infield single and Julio brought Marcus home with a flare single to make it 5-3.
Smoltz went eight, allowing eight hits, striking out four, and walking two. He threw 105 pitches; in a night game, he might have come out for the ninth, but this time he gave way to Reitsma. Reitsma allowed a couple of hits and a run, but finished the game with a 3-2 strikeout of Matt Lawton, rumored trade target.
Francoeur had two more hits and is now hitting .413. It’s getting silly. The first basemen combined for three hits, two by LaRoche. Sixteen hits in all, and you really should score more than five runs when that happens.
One more game in this series (I hate wraparound series) then the Braves go on the road. Hudson will face Zach Duke. The rookie is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA to start his major league career… The Natspos lead the Marlins 3-2 in the seventh. The Mets are tied with the Astros, and amazingly nobody has scored in the first three innings at Coors Field, where the Phillies are playing.