MONTREAL - After spending the better part of Friday playing the part of John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the Atlanta Braves were less than thrilled to arrive at Olympic Stadium without enough time to take batting practice.
As disconcerting as that might have been, it didn't faze Damian Moss, who solidified his standing in an October rotation with a performance that suggested the Montreal Expos were the ones who skipped BP.
Moss, auditioning for the role of fourth starter in the postseason, ended the Braves' two-game stumble in Friday night's 4-2 win before a gathering of 7,659 fans at Olympic Stadium, relying primarily on his fastball and changeup to subdue the Expos.
"Nobody slept last night and everybody's legs felt like jelly," manager Bobby Cox said. "For some reason, every time you have a day like that, you end up winning the darn thing."
In keeping with a nightly ritual, the Braves - who endured a blown tire on their chartered jet and almost left Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones behind in Pittsburgh - were limited to seven hits, but scored runs on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
"It was summer Legion ball all over again," said right fielder Darren Bragg, who had a single and double in five trips and scored two runs. "You know, get out of work, show up 20 minutes before the game, and start hacking."
The Braves started without leadoff man Rafael Furcal, who was given the day off as Cox started to give his regulars a breather. Without Furcal, and missing Gary Sheffield for a fourth-straight game, the offense went silent against Expos starter Tony Armas through the first four innings.
In the fifth, Bragg doubled in the game's first run, then scored on catcher Michael Barrett's passed ball. Bragg triggered a two-run seventh with a single and stolen base, Matt Franco's single made it 3-0, then reliever Matt Herges' wild pitch sent in Jones.
The biggest lift, came from Moss, who has now allowed two or fewer runs in 17 of his 24 starts. When the Expos threatened in the first and third innings, Moss coaxed a pop fly from Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero in his first at-bat, then struck him out with runners on first and second to end the third.
"I got a couple balls up that I got away with, but the majority of the night I got the ball where I wanted to," said Moss, whose shutout was spoiled by Barrett's double and Brad Wilkerson's RBI infield roller in the eighth.
"I felt tired, but it was just one of those things you have to deal with."
Barrett was the only Expo to advance beyond first base in the first five innings, and third base coach Manny Acta remained a lonely man until the eighth, when Barrett led off with a double over center fielder Andruw Jones' head.
John Smoltz pitched the ninth for his 47th save, moving to within six saves of tying the NL saves record held by Randy Myers and Trevor Hoffman.
Thus ended a long night, and a longer day.
"I'm sure there's going to be a lot of snoring in our hotel tonight," Cox said. "I wouldn't want to be a guest there."
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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