Originally created 04/21/00

Braves sweep Phillies



ATLANTA -- The polite thing would be to say the Philadelphia Phillies just weren't on their game against the Braves.

But that wouldn't cut to the heart of the matter, which is the Phils need to strengthen their pitching, especially the bullpen, if they hope to challenge the Braves in the National League East.

All that was evident Thursday night as the Braves took advantage of two more hapless relievers and rode Andres Galarraga's big bat to a 6-4 win and a sweep of the three-game series before a delighted crowd of 31,451 at Turner Field.

Galarraga, who had not homered since opening the season with four home runs in his first six games, went deep twice and finished with four RBI, boosting his club-leading total to 17.

"The ball was really jumping," said Galarraga, whose second-inning homer traveled 422 feet. He followed with a foul-pole banger in the seventh, good for three more runs. "The last one I hit, I was just hoping it would stay fair."

The win went to Kevin Millwood, his first after three no-decisions, and gave him six wins in seven career tries against the Phillies. Mike Remlinger didn't get the save, that went to John Rocker for pitching a scoreless ninth, but he deserved more than a pat on the back for slamming the door on the Phillies in the eighth.

"Remlinger is the guy who needs to get a little more publicity," manager Bobby Cox said. "He's been awesome for two years. He saved our bacon, Galarraga too."

This was the economical Millwood, not the Linda Ronstadt version (Blue Bayou), though he did have two strikeouts. Just a straight-ahead, no-frills approach that kept the Phils lifting balls to waiting outfielders.

Millwood, who threw a staff-high 24 home-run pitches last year, was hurt by the long ball three times. Scott Rolen, limited to only one single in the first two games, homered over the left-field wall in the fourth, then Chris Brock became the first Phillies pitcher since Jeff Juden in 1995 to go deep, hitting a 1 and 2 pitch that tied the score at 2 in the fifth.

"I hate giving up home runs," said Millwood, who allowed the Phillies only seven hits and walked three batters. "I'll probably continue giving up homers; let's just hope they're all solo."

Galarraga homered to start the Braves' two-run second, his first home run since April 10, ending an alarming personal streak of eight straight singles. Like Randy Wolf 24 hours earlier, Chris Brock was punished for his wildness, Rafael Furcal following walks to Javy Lopez and Reggie Sanders with an infield hit to make it 2-0.

Brock, who made his major league debut with the Braves back in 1997, was constantly in trouble but survived five hits and four walks and departed after six without figuring in the decision.

The Braves, who seemed to have snapped from their first-month funk with 12 hits and 10 runs Wednesday night, were right back in the brittle-bat mode. They stranded Andruw Jones on second base in the first, left runners on the corners in the second, then failed to drive in runners in scoring position in the third and fifth.

In the seventh, Furcal, making his sixth start at shortstop, walked and Jones smashed a grounder off reliever Scott Aldred's glove, the ball trickling into shallow left. Chipper Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to score the tie-breaking run, then Jordan singled and Galarraga banged his sixth homer off the left-field foul pole against reliever Carlos Reyes to make it 6-2.

"It's good to see (Galarraga) back in the first place," Millwood said. "Seeing him as productive as he's been is a big plus for us."

Millwood was at his best in the sixth inning, when he faced Rolen with runners on first and second and no outs and coaxed a fly ball from him, then induced Rico Brogna to tap into a pitcher-to-shortstop-to-first double play.

Then in the seventh, after Mickey Morandini singled and Alex Arias walked, Millwood retired pinch hitter Kevin Sefcik and Doug Glanville on flies to Brian Jordan to keep the score tied.

Millwood came back out for the eighth, but he shouldn't have. A walk to Rob Ducey and Bobby Abreu's homer over the left-field wall made the game closer than it should have been.

"I don't think I pitched very smart tonight," Millwood said. "I didn't mix in enough breaking balls. I was pumping fastball after fastball, and you just can't do that."

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.