MONTREAL -- No matter how many games Tom Glavine ultimately wins --and there's no end in sight for the major league's winningestleft-hander over the last dozen years -- the Braves pitcher never letsanyone forget he's at his best when September breezes fan a pennantrace.
Understand then, that in Monday afternoon's 5-0 win over theMontreal Expos at Olympic Stadium, Glavine jump-started thistwo-country, six-game spin with his 21st career shutout, allowing theBraves the modest feat of winning two games in a row for the first timein almost two weeks.
Although the outcome was not nearly as satisfying for that part ofthe audience wishing to see the Expos put a crimp in the Braves' plansto win the NL East, it was delicious for Glavine's parents, Fred andMillie, visiting from Billerica, Mass.
"I think the last shutout I threw was with them here," saidGlavine, whose last shutout came here last Sept. 25. "They've been agood luck charm for me."
With 25 games left, the Braves, who have won just four of theirlast 11 games, have a two-game lead over the Phillies, 10-7 losers tothe Mets.
It's easy for the Braves to imagine this is the start of somethingbig. With Julio Franco offering a calming effect on an unsettledlineup, Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez have begun to hit. The paircombined for four hits and four RBI, Lopez's three-run home run in thefourth inning allowing Glavine to go on automatic pilot for his 13thwin.
"It's good the second half of the lineup picked us up," saidright fielder Brian Jordan, who threw out a runner at home, and anotherat second base. "It's a good sign and I hope they continue it throughSeptember. If they do, there's no doubt in my mind we'll be in theplayoffs."
For a second day in a row, Brave hitters did everything to take thepressure off their beleaguered pitching staff.
The Braves had a run four batters into the second inning whenJones and Lopez singled, and Jones scored on Rey Sanchez's infield out.
That was all the offense Glavine would need, but the Braves put thegame away with a three-run fourth. B.J. Surhoff sent a double to right,then Jones, who had two of the Braves' 10 hits, singled, and Lopezdelivered his 15th home run of the season off Expos starter Tomo Ohka.
"This is the most important month for any player," said Lopez,who has batted just .265 since the All-Star break, but is hitting .394in his last 10 games. "This is the month I really need to get hot andhelp this team win."
Jordan singled to open the sixth, sped to third on Surhoff'ssingle, and scored the final Braves run on Jones' sacrifice fly.
"Javy's home run was a huge boost for us," third baseman ChipperJones said. "The more (Andruw and Javy) produce down there, the fasterthe lineup turns over."
Glavine, who beat the Expos last Wednesday in Atlanta, shiftedstrategy after Montreal hit the ball hard in the first. He was saved bytwo terrific defensive plays: Andruw Jones' over-the-head catch ofVladimir Guerrero's drive to the warning track, and Jordan nailing JoseVidro at the plate to end the inning.
"It was a Willie Mays play," Expos manager Jeff Torborg said ofJones' catch. "It turned the whole inning around. I didn't think hehad a chance."
Glavine began working the inside corner to keep the Expos fromleaning over the plate to tap his sinkers and changeups into rightfield. Though he retired the side in order just twice, he allowedonly two runners to advance beyond first base in the last six innings.
"The more I went in there, the more I improved my location inthere," said Glavine, who gave up seven hits, walked two, and threw126 pitches, 74 for strikes. "I used to be a whole lot more stubbornin staying away. But it's been kind of fun. It's opened up a whole newway for me to get guys out."
"Typical Tom Glavine," Expos third baseman Mike Mordecai said."He worked both sides of the plate, and he threw inside effectively.When he's doing that, he's hard to beat."
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.
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