Originally created 03/09/99

Braves top Tigers



LAKELAND, Fla. -- Looks as if Detroit manager Larry Parrish might have to moonlight as the Tigers' psychologist this season.

That's a cinch if Gabe Alvarez stays on the team. A few more days like Monday, however, and that may not be an issue.

Alvarez made five of Detroit's seven errors as the Tigers lost to the Atlanta Braves 9-7.

"I should have had every one of those balls," Alvarez said. "They were all routine plays."

Alvarez, who had 19 errors in 55 games at third last season, made four throwing errors. First baseman Frank Catalanotto and non-roster pitcher Jeff Weaver made one error each for Detroit, which allowed five unearned runs.

"You can say what you want, but we're going to have to put psychologist in there, too," Parrish said. "We've worked on the mechanics. We've seen him do it right."

Alvarez, who had homered earlier in the game, hit a long fly ball to left with a runner on third and two outs in the ninth, but it was held up by a strong wind and caught at the fence.

"We'll run Gabe out there again," Parrish said. "Not tomorrow. But we've got to get him over it. He kind of had that, `Oh, God, don't hit the ball to me,' look. We've all had that at one time. But, if you're going to play up here, you've got to want the ball hit to you. Right now, I don't think he feels that way."

John Smoltz, who went 17-3 last year and led the major leagues with an .850 winning percentage, allowed one run and two hits in two innings, struck out one and walked one.

Walt Weiss capped a four-run second off Weaver, the Tigers' top draft choice last year, with a two-out single. Even though two runs had already scored, it was the first ball hit out of the infield and only one of the four runs against Weaver was earned.

Jason Marquis, who was 2-12 at Class-A Dansville last season, followed Smoltz and won despite giving up three runs and four hits in three innings.

Ozzie Guillen had a two-run double as the Braves scored three runs in the fifth off loser Brian Looney, the third of six Detroit pitchers. Atlanta got two more unearned runs off Felipe Lira in the seventh as Alvarez made two more errors.

Kimera Bartee's double off Joe Winkelsas keyed a three-run Detroit eighth.



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