Originally created 04/12/98

GreenJackets too much for Braves



MACON, Ga. -- With three swings of the bat, Augusta GreenJackets designated hitter Derrick Lankford gave his team all the runs it needed to hand the Macon Braves a 14-3 defeat, snapping their two-game losing skid in front of 1,417 fans at Luther Williams Field on Saturday night.

Lankford gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead in the first when his single pushed Victor Gutierrez home. Then with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and the game tied at 1-1, Lankford cleared the bases and gave the Jackets a 5-1 lead.

But that wasn't even his biggest blow. In the top of the ninth inning, Lankford hit a three-run homer that cleared the center field wall, giving the Jackets an 11-3 lead.

But it didn't look like the Jackets would have any luck against the Braves pitching staff to start the game. During the first five innings, Augusta wondered what it would take to get a hit off Braves starter Luis Rivera.

They had managed a run and two hits off the right-hander in the first inning, but for the next 3 1/3 innings, the GreenJackets' bats went silent.

Finally, in the fifth inning, Augusta figured out Rivera's secret. The Jackets not only scored five runs in the inning, but also knocked Rivera out of the game.

Rivera retired eight consecutive batters in a row in the second, third and fourth innings before running out of gas in the fifth.

But Augusta pounded the Braves bullpen for two insurance runs in the seventh and six more in the ninth, with the inning highlighted by three-run homers each from Lankford and Felix Lara to ice the game.

The Jackets got a solid start on the mound from starter Sam McConnell, who worked 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first win of the season.

More importantly, the GreenJackets got back to their winning ways since dropping two straight games on the road before Saturday night's contest. Augusta (5-4) handed first-place Macon (6-2) just its second loss so far this season.

Macon scratched two runs across the plate in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3, but couldn't draw any closer.