Originally created 04/08/04

Running It Up



ATLANTA - After getting steamrolled on Opening Day, then falling behind by six runs on Wednesday night, even the most ardent Braves fan had to be worried.

Then came the fourth inning.

The Braves sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs in an improbable inning, rallying to beat the Mets, 18-10, with 45-year-old Julio Franco and Marcus Giles leading the way with three RBI each. Chipper Jones, J.D. Drew, Adam LaRoche, Johnny Estrada and Andruw Jones also knocked in two runs apiece.

"I think it gives the fans a little hope," said LaRoche, who also scored two runs. "I think they were doubting us a little bit."

During the exhilarating fourth, the Braves almost batted around twice and, besides LaRoche's two hits and two RBI, Estrada had a pair of singles and knocked in two runs. Franco, who pinch-hit for starter Mike Hampton, contributed a pair of singles and drove in three runs.

"That's the beauty of the game," said Giles, who singled twice and doubled. "You can be the worst hitter in the world one day and the best hitter in the world the next."

The crowd of 22,775 fans rose after Rafael Furcal struck out to end the fourth and delivered a standing ovation to a team that managed just two runs on Opening Day.

The 11 runs were the most the Braves had scored in one inning since Sept. 20, 1972, when they set a team record by scoring 13 runs in the second inning against the Astros.

This was not a night to be a pitcher.

The Mets scored six runs in the first three innings against Tuesday's starter, Russ Ortiz. They duplicated the feat against Hampton, tallying eight hits during that stretch, including back-to-back home runs by Mike Piazza and Mike Cameron in the first.

"It was pretty ugly," said Hampton, who gave up six runs on nine hits. "Fortunately, I had 24 other guys on the team show up tonight. I've got to make some adjustments."

Staked to a 3-0 lead before he even came out of the visitors dugout, Mets starter Steve Trachsel set down six of the first seven Braves before Giles lined a run-scoring single to right with two outs in the third. By that time, the outcome seemed a foregone conclusion: The Mets were ahead, 6-1, and Trachsel had given up just three hits.

But Chipper Jones, who struck out with a runner on second in the first, changed that. He launched his first home run, a 415-foot drive into the left-center field seats, to make it 6-3 to give the fans hope.

"We might not match the home run numbers we had last year, but we have a lot of accomplished hitters in this lineup," Jones said.

In the fourth, singles by Andruw Jones, LaRoche, and Estrada sent another run home and brought Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson out for a chat.

Whatever wisdom he imparted fell on deaf ears. Mark DeRosa drew a walk to load the bases and pinch hitter Franco sent a two-run, game-tying single through the left side, ushering Trachsel from the game.

Grant Roberts was worse.

The reliever faced seven batters and retired only two. The Braves went walk, sacrifice fly, intentional walk, single, pop fly, double, and single before manager Art Howe removed the righthander with Atlanta up, 12-6.

The 11 runs tied a Mets record for most runs allowed in one inning.



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