Originally created 07/20/00

Braves beat by Mother Nature



FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Apparently, Mother Nature couldn't stand to watch any more of Wednesday night's Braves-Marlins game.

So, rather than allowing the mess to continue, she flooded Pro Player Stadium with torrential rain and washed out the game.

For that, the baseball gods were eternally grateful.

The game was delayed in the top of the fifth with the game tied at 6. It was called after a two-hour, 14-minute delay and will be made up today as part of a doubleheader scheduled to start at 4:05. Tom Glavine and Ryan Dempster will go in Game 1, and Kevin Millwood will move up a day in the rotation and oppose A.J. Burnett in Game 2.

"That's why they need a suspended rule," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We should pick up the game where it left off. That would solve everything. If this had happened in the sixth, we would have picked it up. Why not the fourth or fifth?"

Besides wiping out the game, the rain erased Chipper Jones' three hits, Rafael Furcal's pair of hits and two RBI and Reggie Sanders' double. The good news was it also wiped Andy Ashby's horrible start from baseball's record books.

Before Mother Nature got around to turning on the faucet, both starting pitchers made early exits, combining to allow 16 hits, seven walks and 10 runs before departing.

Florida's Brad Penny was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain following his 3 1/3 innings, while Ashby made the Braves wish they'd traded for Denny Neagle instead.

The Braves put their bats to work, punishing Penny, who walked six, for his wildness. Andruw Jones followed Furcal's first-inning single with a double into the left field corner, but third base coach Ned Yost inexplicably sent Furcal to the plate, where he was out easily. Yost's decision proved costly when Chipper Jones followed with a run-scoring double.

Trailing 4-1 in the third, the Braves scored two runs when right fielder Mark Kotsay misplayed Javy Lopez's soft single, following singles by Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan.

Penny was gone in the fourth after Andruw Jones walked, Chipper Jones singled and Jordan was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Andres Galarraga walked to force in a run to make it 5-4, then Lopez tapped into a double play to end the rally.

Ricky Bones wasn't much of an improvement. The Braves loaded the bases in the fifth against the reliever and Furcal's slicing double over left fielder Cliff Floyd's glove drew the Braves even at 6.

In no way did Ashby resemble the pitcher who worked a complete-game 4-1 win over the Orioles in his Braves debut last Friday. The Marlins battered him with six hits and four runs in the second, then Mike Lowell launched his 14th homer deep into the left field seats to make it 5-3 in the third.

Ashby, who gave up seven hits to the Orioles, didn't have the same movement or location on his pitches. He regularly found the middle of the zone and the Marlins, hitting a collective .259 (the NL's third-worst average) teed off on him.

When Ashby walked Luis Castillo to start the bottom of the fourth and Mark Kotsay followed with a single, Cox went out to rescue him.

Soon after Mother Nature decided she'd seen enough.