Originally created 05/04/02

Braves battle past Cards



ST. LOUIS - When Braves pitcher Damian Moss, working on a seven-walk no-hitter, reached the dugout after the seventh inning Friday night, you could almost hear manager Bobby Cox mumbling to himself.

Take him out or leave him in?

Cox chose to lift his young left-hander after seven innings and 116 pitches, and his faith in the bullpen was rewarded. Four relievers worked four innings, and Chipper Jones provided the offense in a 2-1, 11-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals before a crowd of 40,758 fans at Busch Stadium.

The Braves, held to three hits by Cardinals ace Matt Morris and closer Jason Isringhausen, made reliever Gene Stechschulte's life miserable in the 11th. Rafael Furcal worked him for a one-out walk, then Jones reached the plate with two outs and launched Stechschulte's 3-and-0 offering into the center-field seats, his fifth home run of the season.

Moss and relievers Mike Remlinger, Tim Spooneybarger, Chris Hammond and John Smoltz limited St. Louis to three singles. The Cardinals' only hits were Fernando Vina's roller through the middle in the eighth off Remlinger, and Edgar Renteria's infield hit and Mike Matheny's two-out RBI hit in the 11th against Smoltz.

Moss, who has been one of the Braves' most consistent starters the past four weeks, didn't use his windup often. He started five of seven innings with walks, but he also had six strikeouts during the stretch and allowed the ball to escape the infield just three times.

Moss' problems were accentuated by his inability to command his fastball with any precision. But he had a terrific change-up, and like fellow Braves starter Tom Glavine, he used it regularly to great effect.

After walking two of the first three batters in the fourth, Moss struck out Renteria on three-straight change-ups, then coaxed an inning-ending roller from Tino Martinez on another change of pace.

Moss did his best work when Vina opened the home half of the sixth with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and sped to third on Placido Polanco's bunt. The left-hander induced J.D. Drew to tap to first baseman Wes Helms then coaxed an infield roller from Albert Pujols to end the rally.

The Braves, coming off a series win against the Brewers, were limited to three hits in eight innings by Morris, who got two double plays and allowed two runners to advance beyond first base.

An offense batting a collective .223 with runners in scoring position hit into a double play and left five men on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth. That rally began when Jones walked with two out, then Gary Sheffield snapped an 0-for-29 drought with a hard single, and Andruw Jones accepted a free pass to load the bases. But, Vinny Castilla, one of just two regulars hitting better than .300 with runners in scoring position, flied to center to end the threat.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.