PHOENIX - With the master of precision, Greg Maddux, watching from a seat in the dugout Friday night, John Burkett demonstrated the art of pitching is alive and well on the backside of the Braves' rotation.
Pity the poor Arizona Diamondbacks, who never had a chance. A night after a barrage of Diamondbacks' home runs, Burkett set down 13 of the first 17 Arizona batters, didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning and allowed just three runners to second base in a three-hit, 9-0 demolition of the Diamondbacks.
Burkett, displaying a command of the strike zone that would have made Maddux jealous - 103 pitches, 68 for strikes - didn't allow a hit for 5â innings, and pitched his fifth career shutout, his first since 1996.
"That's when pitching is fun," said Burkett, who took his first win and first complete game since 1997. "When you're throwing the ball where you want to. After we scored the runs, I told myself to keep concentrating because they have a dangerous lineup."
As imprecise as Maddux was in Thursday night's 13-6 embarrassment, Burkett was on the mark. The only balls hit hard before the sixth were Matt Williams' deep fly to left to end the fourth and Greg Colbrunn's smash in the fifth that second baseman Quilvio Veras took on a short hop and turned into a double play.
In the sixth, ex-Brave Danny Bautista, pinch hitting for pitcher Armando Reynoso, threw his bat at an 0 and 2 delivery and dumped it into right field for Arizona's first hit.
"This is why it's a funny game," said Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez, who was hitless in four trips to the plate. "We beat a Cy Young winner last night and go up against a guy who throws 85 m.p.h. and he doesn't give up a hit until the sixth. He fed off our aggressiveness at the plate."
There was no shortage of support for Burkett. The Braves, losers of five of the first seven games on this trip and trying to rebound from the humiliation of giving up the most runs in a road loss in three years, tied their season-high by banging out 14 hits, including home runs by Andruw Jones, B.J. Surhoff, Chipper Jones and Veras.
The Braves gave Burkett a 1-0 lead even before he went to the mound and wrapped it up with a five-run second that included Jones' solo home run, his sixth of the season, and a two-run home run by Surhoff.
Third baseman Chipper Jones had a career-high five hits, including a two-out double in the first and his seventh home run in the ninth. He scored three runs and knocked in one. Veras, just 3 for 25 in the first seven games of the trip, had three hits, including his first home run since last June 22.
Every regular, with the exception of leadoff man Rafael Furcal, had at least one hit.
"I wanted five, I've never had five before," said Chipper Jones, who upped his batting average to .345. "If we go out and give our pitching staff six and seven runs a game, we're going to be awfully tough to beat."
Reynoso got no help in the first. Chipper Jones doubled to center with two outs, then Surhoff's fly clanked off right fielder David Dellucci's glove, scoring Jones.
Brian Jordan followed with a line drive that second baseman Craig Counsell, lunging to his right, gloved, then dropped. An unsympathetic scorer initially ruled an error, but after Braves hitting coach Merv Rettenmund and Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly phoned the press box, he reviewed a replay and changed it to a hit.
In the second, Furcal followed singles by Rico Brogna and Veras with a sacrifice fly, then Andruw Jones took Reynoso deep, his sixth home run curling just inside the left field foul pole. Chipper Jones singled to left and Surhoff delivered his second home run into the right field seats, a drive estimated at 415 feet, making it 6-0.
Veras followed a single by Lopez in the eighth with a home run against reliever Erik Sabel, a drive that struck the left field foul pole. That was more support than Burkett had received in his last four starts combined. And he didn't need it.
"How about that?" manager Bobby Cox said. "A good hitting team in a good hitter's park, that was a phenomenal performance."
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org
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