ATLANTA -- This one didn't feature a marquee pitching matchup, but Kevin Millwood still erased Tom Glavine's Tuesday night performance.
In misty, wind-whipped conditions better suited to the Scottish moors, a straight-ahead Millwood vaulted into the pennant race memory banks Wednesday night as the Braves beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 before the smallest crowd (25,529) in Turner Field history.
Working a season-high eight innings and striking out eight, Millwood put on a pitching clinic, Chipper Jones reached 100 RBI in a fifth straight season and a lineup limited to three runs in seven innings put the game out of reach by torching Arizona's bullpen for four eighth-inning runs.
"Pitching is the game of the game and Kevin gave it to us tonight," manager Bobby Cox said. "He's throwing it good at just the right time."
Winning consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 20-21, the Braves upped their NL East lead to two games over the New York Mets with 23 to play. The Diamondbacks, who have lost 10 of their last 14 games, remained five games behind the Mets in the wild-card race.
"Doing it in September means a lot more to me than picking up a game on the Mets in May or June," said Millwood, who remained perfect (3-0) against the Diamondbacks and improved to 9-10. "It gives me a lot of confidence. It means I can beat a pretty good ballclub."
Millwood, one of the league's worst-supported starters, received more runs than in his last two starts combined. The Braves collected only seven hits, but five different hitters drove in runs and Andruw Jones scored three runs, upping his career-best total to 108.
Meanwhile, Diamondbacks starter Armando Reynoso still hasn't figured out a way to beat his former team.
In the fourth, Andruw Jones walked and B.J. Surhoff battled Reynoso through an eight-pitch at-bat before delivering a game-tying single.
It was still tied 1-1 when Rafael Furcal started the sixth by lining a double over left fielder Luis Gonzalez's head. Andruw Jones then ignited some controversy with a tapper to third baseman Matt Williams.
Watching Furcal dance off second, Williams threw to second baseman Jay Bell, who slapped a tag on the sliding Furcal. But, second base umpire Eric Cooper ruled Furcal safe, leaving Bell hopping mad and bringing Arizona manager Buck Showalter from the dugout for a futile argument.
Chipper Jones followed by lining a pitch off his shoetops into left-center for a run-scoring single and Andres Galarraga rolled into a 6-4-3 double play, sending Andruw Jones across the plate to make it 3-1.
"I've got to come through in situations like that to gain some confidence," Chipper Jones said. "I'm not there yet, but the last two nights have done wonders for my confidence."
In the eighth, the Braves teed off against against reliever Byung-Hyun Kim. Andruw Jones followed a hit batsman (Wally Joyner) and a walk to Furcal with a run-scoring single. Chipper Jones delivered Furcal to the plate with his second base hit, Galarraga picked up his 88th RBI with a ground ball and Javy Lopez's first hit of the game padded the lead.
Millwood, a winner of only one start since beating the Diamondbacks Aug. 1, was reminded that speed kills in the first. Tony Womack singled and swiped second, then scored on Greg Colbrunn's two-out double.
Warming up for the third, Millwood made a slight adjustment in his delivery to increase his push off the mound and his velocity picked up.
Colbrunn started the fourth with another double, his third extra-base hit in two games against his former teammates, but Millwood went three-up, three-down against Steve Finley (ground ball), Williams (strikeout) and Danny Bautista (ground ball) to strand Colbrunn at third base.
"That was probably the key point of the game for me," Millwood said. "It was maybe the first time all year I had a guy on third with less than two outs and got out of the jam. That's what breeds confidence."
That was all for the Diamondbacks, who didn't advance another runner past first base until Womack's two-out double in the eighth. Millwood set down 14 in a row following Colbrunn's double, striking out six.
"This is the right time for him to get better," Lopez said. "This time of year, Millwood is going to come up and be the pitcher we all know."
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