Originally created 07/30/00

Braves make quick work of Astros



ATLANTA -- After a rain-delayed win Friday night that could be classified as Chinese water torture, the Atlanta Braves made relatively quick work of the Houston Astros Saturday.

Wally Joyner belted his 200th career home run, and a fresh-armed John Burkett survived a three-run second inning for his eighth win as the Braves won 13-5 before a sellout crowd of 47,889 at Turner Field, their fifth win in six games.

In pushing their record to a season-high 24 games over .500, the Braves maintained their five-game lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. The Mets were 4-3 winners over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I talked about it a couple of days ago," said Joyner, referring to the milestone. "There's a place in the game for personal achievement, but a very small place. I'm happy with the longevity of my career, and I'm happy to be able to produce and help the team win."

Atlanta was aided by sloppy play in the field by the Astros, who committed four errors and kicked another ball -- chipper Jones' routine grounder to short in the fifth inning -- that was rulled a hit. That, combined with eight walks, spelled disaster for the floundering Astros.

Javy Lopez' two-run bomb off Houston starter Shane Reynolds (7-8) in the first inning gave Burkett a 4-0 lead to work with, and after Houston plated three runs in the top of the second, Joyner capped another four-run inning with another two-run shot, his drive on Jason Green's 2-2 offering just clearing the right-field wall.

Andruw Jones had three hits in the first three innings, his two-run single in the third making it 11-3 and removing all doubt about the outcome.

Burkett (8-4) gave up three runs on four hits in the second, including a home run by Houston catcher Tony Eusebio, but was otherwise solid. He allowed nine hits in seven innings, retiring nine straight at one stretch. Burkett, who started for the first time since July 6, struck out four and walked none.

"I've always started, and I enjoy the preparation and the adjustments of facing guys over and over," said Burkett, who replaced Terry Mulholland as the Braves' No. 5 starter. "My reportoire is probably more usable in a starter's role."

Burkett, who left before the start of Friday's game and was the only Atlanta player to get a regular night's sleep, was more than good enough on a day when the Braves scored a season-high 13 runs, getting three hits each from Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal and Keith Lockhart.

Reynolds exited with back stiffness after the first inning, the shortest start of his major-league career.

After Eusebio's homer, pinch-hitter Daryle Ward ripped an RBI triple and Julio Lugo scored him with a single to cut the lead to 4-3.

But the game unraveled on Green, who came on in relief of Reynolds to start the second inning. With one out and one run in, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones executed a double steal, and Houston third baseman Christopher Truby could not handle Eusebio's throw, which skipped into left field and allowed Andruw Jones to score. Joyner followed with the homer, his fourth of the season.

Another ill-advised defensive play in the third sealed it. Witht he bases loaded, Furcal tapped a slow grounder to third. Truby threw home for the force out, but Eusebio rushed in trying to double up Furcal, this throw sailing down the right-field line.

"I don't know why he threw to first," said Furcal. "He wasn't going to get me out."

Houston manager Larry Dierker was left to lament the play of his team, which fell to 29 games under .500.

"Obviously, the errors were a big part of our problem early in the game," he said. "Burkett is probably the worst hitter in the league, and we walked him twice."

Notable pitching duos

Eddie Plank and Chief Bender, Philadelphia Athletics, 440

Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez, New York Yankees, 391

Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, Los Angeles Dodgers, 340

Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, San Francisco Giants, 336

Bob Lemon and Early Wynn, Cleveland Indians, 335

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, Atlanta Braves, 264

Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, Boston Braves, 207

Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers, 206

Source: National Baseball Hall of Fame