ATLANTA -- Terry Mulholland's last complete game was almost three years ago, and he remembered it well.
"It was a loss to the White Sox," said Mulholland, recalling his June 18, 1997 start for the Chicago Cubs, a 3-0 defeat in which he went eight innings and the Sox did not hit in the ninth. "There's not much fun in that."
Mulholland provided a needed pick-me-up for the Atlanta Braves' bullpen, tossing the club's first complete game of 2000. And this one came out on the positive side, a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates before 33,790 at Turner Field Friday night.
Mulholland has been sterling in back-to-back starts. He went eight innings in a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in his last start. That came after he allowed 12 earned runs in eight innings of work over his first two outings.
"I just refused to keep going out there stinking it up," Mulholland said.
The genesis of his turnaround came on March 14 during he first game of the Milwaukee series, when he watched teammate Tom Glavine toss a gem against the Brewers. In the dugout, he had an ongoing discussion with Greg Maddux.
"It was really just about knowing when to pitch in and when to pitch away," said Mulholland, who recorded 13 ground-ball outs and struck out three while scattering eight Pittsburgh hits.
Noted Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone, "He's really starting to own the down and away strike with a fastball."
In support of their No. 4 starter, the Braves pounded out 12 hits, including three each by Quilvio Veras and Walt Weiss, and broke the game in the latter innings just as they did in all three games of their sweep over the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I really needed that for myself," said Veras, who said he had faced Parra in the Dominican Republic. He coaxed a lead-off walk in the bottom of the first and scored Atlanta's first run on Chipper Jones' single to left.
"I try doing my part from leadoff ... I wanted to go deep in the count and let my teammates get a look at more of his pitches."
On a cool night where the temperature hovered around 50 degrees, the Braves marked their fifth straight win and sixth in their last seven games, breaking a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Andres Galarraga and a sacrifice fly by Javy Lopez, making a winner out of Mulholland (2-2)
Mulholland's start was reminiscent of the one made by Glavine in Wednesday's 10-1 win over the Phillies. Glavine left the Phils wishing for one more batter all night long, stranding eight runners on in his seven innings. Mulholland spent Friday night doing a balancing act of his own, leaving six runners over the first four innings.
"I never really felt it was my stuff or anything I was doing that got me into those situations," said Mulholland.
The only hiccup over the final eight innings was a sixth-inning home run by Pittsburgh third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who had just two hits in his previous 35 at-bats before belting Mulholland's 1-0 offering into the front row in left field to tie the score at two.
Mulholland did not appear long for the game over the first four innings, which saw him walk Pittsburgh starter Jose Parra twice, throwing eight balls in nine pitches over the two at-bats.
Parra lasted five innings and did not figure in the decision, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out seven, and then the Bucs' bullpen collapsed.
The Braves pounded out seven hits and four runs after Parra left the game, and first baseman Andres Galarraga provided the big hit, a soft RBI single in the sixth that scored Chipper Jones with the go-ahead run.
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