Originally created 09/07/98

Smoltz wins; rookie excels



NEW YORK -- If Marty Malloy had scripted his major league debut, he might have made one change.

He would have hit his first home run in his first at-bat, which would have been entirely appropriate for a second baseman who spent seven years toiling in the minor leagues before getting a call from the Atlanta Braves.

As it turned out, this made-for-Hollywood production was lacking only an appearance by Kevin Costner to erase the last traces of reality.

Short of sleep and dragging after catching an early morning flight from Richmond, Va., and changing planes in Philadelphia, Malloy turned his debut Sunday afternoon into a statement.

After wading through 2,906 at-bats in the minors and hitting 33 home runs, he clobbered a homer in his second at-bat in the majors to back John Smoltz's 13th career shutout as the Braves ended a three-game skid with a 4-0 victory over the New York Mets in front of a crowd of 40,311 fans at Shea Stadium.

"For a guy that didn't hit many homers in the minors and his first major league hit is a home run, there's no words to describe it," said Malloy, who had two of the Braves' eight hits. "I'm at a loss for words. It's such a great day."

Malloy's third-inning blast on the ninth pitch he saw in the big leagues was the second of four home runs the Braves hit, boosting their season total to 194, 13 shy of the 1966 franchise record. Besides Malloy, Ryan Klesko hit his first homer since Aug. 5, Andruw Jones added No. 27 and Andres Galarraga returned from his three-game suspension and hit his 42nd home run.

Smoltz, who was three outs away from a complete-game win over the Astros last Monday and took a loss instead, was in command throughout Sunday's game. He finished with a three-hitter and a season-high 12 strikeouts, didn't issue a walk and retired 16 of the final 17 hitters he faced.

All three hits against Smoltz (14-3) were singles and he faced only three men over the minimum.

"I commanded one half of the plate today, and I kept it there and mixed it up," he said. "My whole key is pitching off my fastball. When I have a good one, I can mix in some mediocre changeups and some good curves and sliders and I'm going to have some success."

So overpowering was Smoltz the Mets didn't advance a runner into scoring position all afternoon. It was his second complete game, and he finished just three strikeouts shy of matching his 1992 career-high.

In comparing Smoltz to Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens, Mets left fielder Tony Phillips said, "He's just got good (stuff). He's just good. He mixes up pitches well and throws off-speed stuff for strikes."

As dominant as Smoltz was, the afternoon belonged to a slight second baseman who manager Bobby Cox likens to another scrappy infielder, former Braves second baseman Mark Lemke. If Lemke was the original dirt player, Malloy is Dirt Jr.

"Marty gave us that little spark," Cox said. "He got that home run and that little single. After he does something like that you tell him how proud you are of him."

Mets starter Rick Reed was after his 17th win, but after striking out Malloy with a pair of inside fastballs in the first inning, he came inside with another fastball in the third. This time Malloy was looking for it, and he launched it into the Mets bullpen, where a security guard retrieved it and sent it to the Braves dugout.

"(Keith) Lockhart and Chipper (Jones) told me Reed would come inside until I proved I could hit it," Malloy said. "I didn't feel any pressure, but I felt I needed to go out and get something done."

Jones, who counts Malloy among his closest friends, greeted him at home plate with three words: "Nice going, rook."

"I hit my first one here, so it was a little bit of deja vu," Jones said. "He came up asking me when is a good time to bunt and I said, `Anytime, you've got me and Cat coming up behind you.' Then he goes deep and I say, `See, you're messing up the whole program.' "

A team in need of a spark wouldn't mind seeing more of Malloy during the final three weeks of the season.

Atlanta -- 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 -- 4 8 0
New York -- 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 3 1

E -- Fabregas (3). LOB -- Atlanta 3, New York 3. HR -- Galarraga (43) off Tam; AJones (27) off RReed; Malloy (1) off RReed; Klesko (17) off RReed. RBIs -- Malloy (1), Galarraga (113), Klesko (62), AJones (79). SB -- OGuillen (1). CS -- Tucker (3). GIDP -- JLopez.

Runners left in scoring position -- Atlanta 2 (ChJones, Galarraga).

Runners moved up -- ChJones.

DP -- New York 1 (ROrdonez, Baerga and Olerud).