MONTREAL -- In the six-state region that bumps Alabama on one side and South Carolina on the other, the news that Brian Jordan would be out for an unspecified amount of time meant just one thing:
The Braves would find a way to win without him.
Time and time again, this team has proven it's not about one man,and it strengthened its case Sunday afternoon.
Minus Jordan, who suffered a sprained left knee in the firstinning, the Braves wrapped up the first series of this 10-game,three-city odyssey with an 8-1 spanking of the Montreal Expos before9,802 at Olympic Stadium.
Though Dave Martinez, Jordan's stand-in, went hitless in hisabsence, John Burkett pitched gallantly for 7 1/3 innings, Marcus Gilesknocked in four runs, and slugging Ken Caminiti silenced his restlesshalf by triggering a pair of rallies: doubling and scoring in thefourth, and walking to open the five-run eighth.
But Jordan's injury quieted the clubhouse.
"I thought my knee was torn up," said Jordan, who will return toAtlanta today to be examined by team doctors if his knee remainsswollen. "I felt it hyperextend and I twisted, and I think I kind oftook some of the pressure off the knee. I'm hoping I didn't tearanything."
Jordan suffered the injury (and slightly sprained ankle) inthe first inning while running out a ground ball. His spike skiddedacross a wet first base and his knee straightened when he hit the dirt.He walked off under his own power, his face twisted in pain, and hedoubled over twice on his way to the clubhouse.
"It's a big loss," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "I was onfirst and I recall looking down and saying, this base is wet. It mayhave cost us our right fielder for the rest of the season."
"How can you leave a bag soaking wet?" Jordan said. "That cancost a guy his career. It's the grounds crew's fault. They know they'resupposed to dry the bases after they wet down the infield."
The Braves, upping their division lead to a season-high three gamesover the Phillies, gave Burkett all the offense he would need whenCaminiti, who tormented the Expos with seven hits in the four games,opened the fourth with a double against Expos starter Tony Armas. Twoouts later Mark DeRosa was intentionally walked, but Burkett crossed upExpos manager Jeff Torborg by bouncing a hit up the middle, sending inCaminiti. Giles followed with a single to center to make it 2-0.
In the seventh, Giles walked, B.J. Surhoff's tapper bounced pastfirst baseman Fernando Seguignol, and Chipper Jones hit a sacrifice flyto center for an insurance run.
Giles, knocked off the plate by Scott Strickland in the eighth,capped a five-run explosion with his second home run of the season, athree-run blast over the left field wall.
"We took advantage of two innings when they gave us four outs,"Jones said. "We took advantage of their errors, and that's what goodteams do."
With 11 strikeouts, Burkett matched his career-high, set earlierthis year against the Marlins. He threw 99 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Burkett was perfect for 4 1/3 innings, setting down the first 13batters he faced. Orlando Cabrera's single through the right side inthe fifth spoiled Burkett's perfection, and two batters later hisshutout was gone.
Brad Wilkerson sent a two-out double to the wall in right-center tomake it 2-1, then Caminiti dove and gloved Henry Mateo's smash to endthe inning.
That was the last spot of trouble Burkett encountered until theeighth. When two of the first three batters reached with hits in theeighth, Burkett gave way to John Smoltz, who induced pinch hitter MarkSmith to fly to right, and struck out Peter Bergeron.
Burkett evened his record at 8-8, and remained perfect (7-0)against the Expos in Montreal.
"He was so good, I thought he was going to throw a no-hitter fora while," manager Bobby Cox said. "It was a typical performance byhim."
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.
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