Originally created 08/07/02

Jones' homer lifts Braves past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - You can't rule out anything, not in a season in which Darren Bragg had six straight hits, Chris Hammond has become a perfect reliever, and Kevin Millwood has returned from the scrap heap.

But Andruw Jones hitting a two-out home run against Arizona reliever Mike Koplove, who had not surrendered a long ball this season?

And the Diamondbacks scoring two runs with two outs in the ninth against Braves closer John Smoltz?

The odds of that happening are roughly the same as the Braves clinching the division by Aug. 15.

Just as they have all season, the Braves received another dramatic hit Tuesday night, Jones delivering a tie-breaking home run in the 13th inning as the Braves beat the Diamondbacks, the hottest team in the West, 4-3, before a shocked crowd of 46,676 at Bank One Ballpark.

"I was looking for a slider because (Koplove) knows I can hit a fastball," Jones said. "He made a mistake and got a slider over the plate."

The two teams combined to use 37 players in a marathon that stretched across 4 hours and 34 minutes.

"That was one of the most draining games I have ever played in," left fielder Chipper Jones said. "Up and down emotionally, it was hot, there was a playoff atmosphere, and everybody was trying to win. Luckily we had one more swing in our tank."

Smoltz, who had converted 25 consecutive saves since blowing one May 29, gave up RBI doubles to Erubiel Durazo and Quinton McCracken in the ninth to tie the score 3-all, spoiling Matt Franco's night in the Valley of the Sun. Franco handled RBI duties by sending in the game-tying run with a one-out single in the sixth against Curt Schilling, then whistled a two-run double down the right field line two innings later.

But it was Franco's stumble in the eighth that cost the Braves dearly. He raced for home on Andruw Jones' two-out single, then slipped and fell, and was tagged out. If he had not fallen, he would have scored as left fielder Luis Gonzalez's throw was off target.

"I made two great pitches to Durazo and McCracken, but I didn't make that third pitch," said Smoltz, who yielded two-strike hits to both hitters. "Typically, I finish those hitters off, finish that game off."

Both bullpens dominated the offenses. Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim pitched two scoreless innings, slipping a third strike past Jones with runners on first and second to end the 10th. Tim Spooneybarger went six-up, six-down in his two innings, then Kerry Ligtenberg pitched two innings for the win.

Schilling, bidding for his 19th win, gave up seven hits, walked one, and struck out 11.

Keith Lockhart opened the third with a single to left and two outs later Rafael Furcal sent a single to right. But Schilling, who whiffed two in the first and two the next inning, needed just four pitches to dispatch Franco on strikes to end the threat.

Schilling, who insists on pitching with BOB's roof closed, barely escaped the fourth after Gary Sheffield led with a single. Chipper Jones battled him to a full count, then hit a 400-foot drive that center field Steve Finley hauled in at the edge of the warning track, and Andruw Jones followed with a rocket to the wall in left-center that Gonzalez gloved.

Schilling cranked up his fastball to 95 miles per hour, then threw a devastating split-finger, whiffing 10 through the first five innings. He struck out every Brave regular except Furcal, Chipper Jones, and Lockhart at least once, the 10 whiffs marking the 74th time in his career he has reached double digits.

In the sixth, Furcal drew third baseman Craig Counsell in by faking a bunt, then executed a textbook slug-bunt, doubling past him. Franco, a strikeout victim in his first two at-bats, followed with a game-tying single to left.

Millwood was unable to throw his curve or slider for strikes early in the game, and it didn't take the Diamondbacks long to zero in on his fastball. He dodged trouble in the first, stranding a runner on second base, then escaped a first-and-third jam the next inning by coaxing a liner to right from Schilling.

The Diamondbacks scored a run in the third when Counsell and Spivey singled, and with two outs Durazo rifled a single through the right side, sending in Counsell.

That was the sum of Arizona's offense against Millwood. The 27-year-old righthander failed to retire the side in order, but he did his best work with runners on base, stranding nine in six innings.

Millwood was lifted after throwing 102 pitches, Hammond summoned to face Counsell to start the home half of the seventh. He got three outs, then gave way to Mike Remlinger, who stranded runners on first and second in the eighth.


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