Originally created 07/31/98

Braves ramrod Reds, 13-3



CINCINNATI -- Three cities, three cutter-cookie stadiums, nine straight days on artificial turf.

Nice road trip.

That's exactly what the Atlanta Braves were saying to themselves on a rainy Thursday afternoon at Cinergy Field.

Having put the wraps on a 7-2 swing through Pennsylvania and Ohio with a 13-3 pounding of the Cincinnati Reds in front of 28,946 soaked fans, the Braves headed home with a planeful of powerball winners and thoughts of October.

"If we'd gone any less than 7-2 we'd probably be a little disappointed," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "We played well for the most part. Hunter Wendelstedt woke us up."

In the 14 innings since the rookie umpire tossed John Smoltz and Bobby Cox, the Braves outscored the Reds 24-7 and outhomered them 5-2. Thursday's collection of 16 hits included a 3-for-5 performance and three RBI by Gerald Williams, Andruw Jones' 16th homer and three RBI and Chipper Jones reaching base five times and scoring a pair of runs.

Every starter with the exception of second baseman Tony Graffanino had at least one hit and 10 different players either drove in a run or scored one.

"We have some hitters starting to look really good right now," Cox said.

After taking two straight from the Phillies and two of three from the Pirates, the Braves upped their season record against the Reds to 5-1 by winning three of four. The swing through the East and Central also provided Cox an opportunity to rest shortstop Walt Weiss. Ozzie Guillen played every game and Weiss will probably return to the lineup this weekend.

After watching Kevin Millwood and Smoltz last less than four innings in the last two games, Cox wanted eight innings from Denny Neagle so he could rest the relievers. The left-hander delivered a solid performance, working eight and allowing five hits and two runs, while striking out eight.

The difference was his changeup. Neagle (11-9) has battled all season to regain the command of his most important pitch and in a second straight start he had a good one. The only mistake he made came in the sixth when he left a pitch up to Barry Larkin and the Reds' shortstop hit a two-run homer over the right field wall.

"I threw some really good changeups," Neagle said. "I don't remember any of them cutting back over the plate. If anything, they went down and away, which is want I want it to do."

Neagle, who had dropped three of his last four decisions despite allowing more than two runs just once, was staked to a 7-0 lead in five innings and coasted to his first win since July 15 and only his second this month.

"We finally got him some runs and he didn't get dinked to death," Cox said.

Reds starter Rick Krivda (0-2) was making his first NL start and he left the wrong impression on manager Jack McKeon. The left-hander fell behind 2-0 in the first inning on Graffanino's sacrifice fly and right fielder Reggie Sanders' error on Javy Lopez's line drive, then yielded Williams' two-run homer in the fourth.

A four-run fifth inning put the game away. Lopez contributed an RBI double, Andruw Jones singled in a run and Guillen sent a two-run double up the right-center gap against reliever Todd Williams to increase the lead to 8-0.

Jones put the finishing touches to a productive afternoon with a two-run homer in the eighth, then Eddie Perez, replacing first baseman Andres Galarraga, drove in a pair of runs with a ninth-inning single.

"Right now everybody is swinging well," Galarraga said. "We're getting good pitching and defense and the offense is going good. I'll take a 7-2 trip every time."

Atlanta -- 2 0 0 2 4 0 1 2 2 -- 13
Cincinnati -- 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 -- 3

E -- Graffanino (6), RSanders (4). DP -- Atlanta 1, Cincinnati 1. LOB -- Atlanta 10, Cincinnati 5. 2B -- JLopez (16), OGuillen (8), BLarkin (24). 3B -- ChJones (4). HR -- GerWilliams (4), AJones (16), BLarkin (10), WGreene (13). SB -- GerWilliams 2 (7). S -- Neagle. SF -- Graffanino.