Originally created 05/29/03

Braves rout Reds



ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves and Jeff Austin reached a bunch of milestones in the very first inning.

For the Braves, it was all good. For Austin, it was a thoroughly miserable experience.

Atlanta became only the second team in major league history to start a game with three straight homers and went on to a 15-3 rout of the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

Rafael Furcal, Mark DeRosa and Gary Sheffield began the game with back-to-back-to-back homers against Austin. Before the inning was done, Javy Lopez hit a two-run homer to knock out the Reds starter.

The only other team to start a game with three straight homers was the San Diego Padres. Marvelle Wynne, Tony Gwynn and John Kruk accomplished the feat against San Francisco on April 13, 1987.

For good measure, the Braves tied a franchise record with four homers in an inning. They finished with six homers, the most in a game since May 31, 1996, at Cincinnati.

Austin (2-3) became the first pitcher in 11 years to get knocked out of two straight starts without making it through the first. Last Friday, the right-hander failed to get an out against Florida, giving up five runs on three hits and four walks in an 8-4 loss.

Furcal homered again in the second for the first two-homer game of his career.

Lopez had three hits and four RBIs as the Braves scored in double figures for the 10th time this season. They reached that plateau only nine times all last season.

The Braves scored five runs in both the first and third innings, staking Russ Ortiz (7-3) to an 11-0 lead. The right-hander worked six innings, giving up two hits and two runs.

In keeping with the theme of the night, Ortiz also had a run-scoring single.

Jung Bong pitched the last three innings for his first career save.

Furcal led off against Austin with a drive into the right-field seats. On the very next pitch, DeRosa homered to center. Sheffield then launched a shot to the stands in left, causing Austin to stomp around the mound in disgust.

The three homers came in the space of six pitches.

Austin retired the next two hitters, including a flyout by Andruw Jones that was caught at edge of the warning track. But Robert Fick walked and Lopez homered to left-center to make it 5-0.

Austin kneeled on the mound in disbelief, then turned his back to the Reds dugout, perhaps in the vain hope of getting one more chance. But manager Bob Boone called in Joey Hamilton from the bullpen, and Austin jogged off the mound to sarcastic cheers from the Turner Field crowd.

This was the seventh time the Braves hit four homers in an inning. Most recently, Wes Helms, Jones, Brian Jordan and Lopez went deep against San Francisco on May 20, 2001.

The Braves weren't cheated against Austin, who gave up two drives estimated at more than 400 feet. In all, the first-inning homers covered 1,585 feet - about three-10ths of a mile.

The last pitcher to get knocked out of two straight starts in the first was Cleveland's Scott Scudder. He got only one out against Toronto on Sept. 17, 1992, then failed to retire anyone at Boston seven days later.

Notes: The Reds were outhit 18-3. They had only six hits in the last two games of the series. ... Austin has an ERA of 134.33 in his last two starts. Overall, his ERA climbed to 8.78. ... Hamilton, recalled from Triple-A Louisville before the game, had to take one for the team after replacing Austin in the first. Hamilton threw 99 pitches in relief, giving up nine runs and 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings. ... Furcal homered leading off a game for the second time this year and seventh time in his career. ... Mario Soto was the last Cincinnati pitcher to give up four homers in an inning. That occurred on April 29, 1986, against Montreal. ... Matt Franco didn't even start the game and had as many hits as the Reds. He had three hits after entering the game in the fourth, including a homer. ... The Braves tied their season high with 15 runs.