Originally created 06/19/97

Braves fall in thick fog in Toronto



TORONTO - A day that began with a training room as crowded as a Manhattan subway stop ended with a midnight walk past hostile customs officials.

In between, the Atlanta Braves finished a foggy visit to the SkyDome in a most unsatisfactory manner.

Missing two of their speediest players and their leading home run hitter, the Braves wrapped up the first round of interleague play Wednesday night with a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before a crowd of 31,717 fans.

"When you've got four or five of your everyday players out of the lineup and with two or three out of position, it's going to happen," right fielder Chipper Jones said. "It doesn't really surprise me."

A strange afternoon turned into a bizarre evening when SkyDome officials ignored the weather and kept the roof open. They rued their decision when fog continued to roll in and umpires stopped the game for 14 minutes in the fourth inning while the roof was closed.

"I've seen fog here in the old stadium and you can't see anything," manager Bobby Cox said.

As if a loss wasn't enough, the Braves figured to be delayed at the border following the game by Canadian officials who were angered by backup catcher Eddie Perez' comments after they insisted he needed a visa to enter the country Sunday.

It all added up to an irritating and aggravating evening.

Missing Kenny Lofton, Michael Tucker, Fred McGriff and Javier Lopez, the Braves were no-hit by Blue Jays starter Woody Williams for 5‰ innings and they finished with only three singles and four walks.

Williams (2-6) outpitched John Smoltz, who remained winless since May 23. Smoltz (6-6), who was 14-1 after 16 starts last year and didn't take his sixth loss until August 2, went seven innings and made one serious mistake.

That was a home run pitch to Carlos Delgado in the third inning that cost three runs, boosting Toronto's lead to 4-0.

"My last two games I've made three bad pitches and I haven't won," Smoltz said. "If people look only at results, then they haven't seen how I've pitched the last two weeks."

The home run derby wasn't over for the right-hander or the Blue Jays. After the Braves closed the gap to 4-3 in the seventh, Alex Gonzalez hit Smoltz's first pitch in the bottom of the inning over the left field wall for his sixth homer.

It was the sixth homer Smoltz had allowed in his last three starts and was his staff-leading 11th of the season.

"Smoltz came out like he was going to throw a shutout and we were going to win 2-0," Cox said. "It's almost unfair to John that he can't get away with one mistake."

Williams was an unlikely candidate to dominate the Braves, makeshift lineup or not. The righthander hadn't fooled anyone lately. He had not won since May 11, was 1-6 as a starter this season and 6-11 in his career, and was 0-4 at the SkyDome.

Yet, he didn't allow a hit until Rafael Belliard singled with one out the in the sixth and he didn't give up a run until he walked the bases full with two outs in the seventh. Williams departed and Jeff Blauser greeted reliever Paul Quantrill with a two-run single off Delgado's glove at first base. Then third baseman Ed Sprague's second error of the game allowed another run to score.

That was all for a lineup that boasted one .300 hitter and a collection of bench players.

"We've got guys hurt and guys playing out of position," first baseman Mike Mordecai said. "Personally, I think a lot of times when you're playing out of position you think more about the defensive end of things than the offensive end."