Originally created 04/23/04

Rain douses Braves rally



CINCINNATI - For weeks, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox has remained firm in his plans not to skip fifth starter Jaret Wright's turn.

That might be subject to change after Wright's disastrous performance in Thursday afternoon's rain-shortened 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds scored five runs in the second inning off Wright, then waited for Mother Nature to end the day's festivities at The Great American Ballpark.

The game, delayed by rain for an hour at the start, was played in a steady downpour. It was finally stopped by crew chief Tim McClelland with two out in the home half of the fifth when the infield became unplayable.

"You hate to lose in 41Ž2 innings and two runs down," Cox said. "But it was just raining too hard to continue to play."

From the outset, Wright was headed for a short afternoon. He walked two Reds in the first inning and would have been in bigger trouble except D'Angelo Jimenez became the first runner a Braves catcher has caught stealing this season.

Wright's command didn't improve the next inning. He managed to get two outs, while allowing two walks, four singles and five runs, before he was lifted for reliever Juan Cruz. Wright threw 53 pitches, only 23 strikes.

"The sinker was moving out of the strike zone and I was falling behind," Wright said. "I had to go to my four-seamer and it was cutting, then we went to the curve and it was so-so. It happens sometimes, but I've got to get back to the strike zone with the four-seamer and I didn't do that."

Cruz offered terrific relief, pitching 2Q scoreless innings and allowing one hit. His performance allowed the Braves an opportunity to get back into the game.

Trailing 5-0 to Cory Lidle, the Braves scored three runs in the fourth on singles by Marcus Giles and J.D. Drew, and back-to-back doubles with two outs by Adam LaRoche and Johnny Estrada.

But that was the sum of the Braves' offense. Lidle retired the side in order in the fifth and that was it.

"It's disappointing," Giles said. "We were starting to figure out Lidle a little bit. It's anybody's game if we continue, but you can't control Mother Nature."

Wright, who won his last start, beating the Florida Marlins, 5-4, last Friday, retired four of the 13 Reds he faced. His five walks were the most he had in a start since he issued seven walks to the Oakland A's on July 29, 2002 . His command has not been reliable in three starts with the Braves. He has averaged nearly a walk per inning, with 12 in 132/3 innings.

"I didn't even give (the Reds) a chance to beat me," Wright said. "With the walks, I basically beat myself."

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.