ATLANTA - Andruw Jones' bat is waking up. That's good news for the Atlanta Braves.
The center fielder sent the first pitch he saw from San Diego's Jeremy Fikac in the eighth inning over the fence for a three-run homer, lifting the Braves to a 7-3 win before a Turner Field crowd of 29,075 fans Friday night.
The home run, Jones' 12th of the year and second of the game, highlighted the five-run inning for the Braves, who added a two-run homer two batters later by Keith Lockhart off former Braves Alan Embree. It was Lockhart's first home run since July 19th of last year.
"It doesn't get much bigger than that," Jones said. "We're down by one run, and we needed a big hit. I could not believe I got a pitch that good to hit."
Neither could Padres manager Bruce Bochy, whose squad was coming off a three-game sweep by the Florida Marlins.
"It was a bad pitch, but Andruw Jones is a great player," Bochy said. "You can't make mistakes to great players."
Jones has homered in three of his past five games.
"Andruw is really developing; he's really coming on," Braves skipper Bobby Cox said. "Terry's done a great job with him, and you know, to hit behind Chipper Jones, we've got confidence in him."
Mike Remlinger (1-0) earned the win after a scoreless eighth.
The five-run outburst ruined the debut of San Diego rookie Dennis Tankersley, who was called up Friday morning from Class AA Mobile.
Tankersley (1-0), the former Augusta GreenJackets pitcher who was a 38th-round pick by Boston in the 1998 draft, gave up the two runs on four hits and four walks before leaving with two out in the sixth. Tankersley wasn't exactly dominating, though he came close to continuing a mysterious string of success first-time starters have enjoyed against the Braves (18-18).
Entering Friday's game, Atlanta was 6-4 with two no-decisions against first-time starters dating back to 1993, although in seven of those contests, the Braves were held to two or less earned runs.
On May 4, the Braves were beaten 3-2 by St. Louis rookie Jason Simontacchi, who had been called up from Class AAA.
Atlanta starter Greg Maddux wasn't too bad himself.
The right-hander gave up a solo home run to Ray Lankford leading off the third but gave up only six hits until leaving after seven innings. A two-out single by Ramon Vasquez drove home Deivi Cruz from second to make the score 2-0 in the top of the fourth.
Jones was able to get to Tankersley with his team-leading 11th home runs, a two-run blast in the inning's bottom half although Cruz made sure the score did not stay tied for long when he homered in the fifth to put the Padres back up 3-2.
The game wasn't without some controversy.
In the sixth, Julio Franco was at first when Tankersley's first pitch appeared to graze Gary Sheffield's left arm. However, home plate umpire Paul Hemmel disagreed, bringing Cox out of the dugout to argue. The conversation wasn't a long one but as Cox was about to return, first base umpire overheard the Braves manager say something and ejected him from the game. It was Cox's third ejection this year.
Once play continued, Atlanta loaded the bases on a single by Chipper Jones and a Vinny Castilla hit-by-pitch. However, Lockhart, pinch hitting for Marcus Giles, could not deliver off Padres reliever Jason Boyd as he bounced out to Phil Nevin at first ending the threat.
NOTE: After the game, Atlanta optioned reliever Tim Spooneybarger to AAA Richmond to make room for starter Jason Marquis, who will start tonight's game (7:05) against San Diego.