Originally created 04/27/97

Jones gets it done for Braves



ATLANTA - The rookie finally stepped up and delivered on his enormous potential.

Waiting three weeks for a chance to shine, Andruw Jones sauntered into the spotlight Saturday night.

The heralded youngster from Curacao slammed a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning against San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, lifting the Braves past the Padres 3-2 in front of a wet and chilled crowd of 45,473 fans at Turner Field.

"Maybe they were confused," Jones said. "Maybe they thought I was going to bunt, so they go ahead and throw a fastball. I think they make a mistake."

Trailing 2-1 in the 10th, Kenny Lofton sent a single into right field, then hustled into second as Tony Gwynn bobbled the ball. Jones, inserted in the lineup because of Michael Tucker's sore hamstring, followed by hitting Hoffman's second pitch about 390 feet into the left field stands for his second home run.

"I think my teammates know I can play this game and Bobby (Cox) knows I can play," Jones said. "When I get the opportunity, I've just got to go out and play my game and do what I can."

With four games remaining this month, the Braves have already tied the franchise record with 16 wins in April. They are a major league-best 10-1 at home and have won 26 of their last 31 home games dating back to last August.

Jones' homer made a winner of Mark Wohlers (1-0), who spoiled an impressive performance by John Smoltz by giving up a two-out run in the top of the 10th. Wohlers got the first two hitters, then walked Rickey Henderson. Quilvio Veras followed with his third hit of the game, a slicing double down the left field line, and Henderson scored without drawing a throw.

Six days after giving up a career-high 14 hits to the Rockies, Smoltz worked nine innings and allowed eight hits and one run, while striking out a season-high eight men.

Smoltz, whose last loss to the Padres came nearly four years ago, headed into the game a winner of his last six decisions against them. He dodged trouble the first three innings, then did a good job of damage control in the fourth.

Gwynn opened with a single and consecutive base hits by Ken Caminiti and Wally Joyner produced a 1-0 lead. At that point, Smoltz took charge. He struck out Greg Vaughn, then added strikeouts of John Flaherty and Chris Gomez to end the rally and strand a pair of runners.

"You can't win seven in a row or 12 in a row until you start pitching better," said Smoltz, who lowered his earned run average to 2.74. "This was vintage me. Aside from the shutout, this was probably the best I've pitched all year."

Andy Ashby was almost as impressive as Smoltz. He went eight innings and gave up five hits and a pair of walks, but couldn't hold a 1-0 advantage. The right-hander walked Fred McGriff to open the bottom of the fourth and it proved to be a costly mistake. McGriff advanced on Ryan Klesko's grounder, then scored on Javier Lopez's double past Caminiti's dive, tying the game.

That's the way it remained until the 10th inning, when the Padres took a lead that lasted only as long as it took Jones to reach the plate.

The kid from Curacao, who has started 11 of 21 games, has started to take advantage of his playing time. He had a pair of hits and scored a run in Friday night's win, then reached base three times Saturday.

"Andruw is a guy who's trying to feel himself out," Lofton said. "He wants to learn. I've talked with him. Sometimes his focus goes up and down. I've tried to keep his focus at a certain level and that's what he's done the last couple of games."