ATLANTA - Ask Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox whether he's mentally drained after Friday night's offensive meltdown, which was followed by Saturday afternoon's high-wire act, and the Braves manager chuckles in response.
"It's kind of fun, actually," he said. "It's different. The only time it's not fun is when you get way out in front or way behind."
After spotting the Cardinals a head start, the Braves rebounded in splendid fashion, winning a 9-7 decision in which they hit four home runs. Atlanta gave back a three-run lead, then recovered to overtake St. Louis, capitalizing on rare breakdowns by the Cardinals' bullpen and defense.
The Braves turned to 45-year-old Julio Franco for the game's biggest hit, a pinch-hit, two-run double in the seventh.
"Winning a game that you're up, you're down, then you take a late lead is a good win," said closer John Smoltz, who recorded the last four outs for his 29th save in 31 tries. "It would have been an awful shame to lose today."
This game was full of twists and turns.
There were Chipper Jones' two home runs, the first time he's gone deep twice in the same game this season. And two more home runs by Cardinals strongman, Albert Pujols, who knocked in three runs.
There was home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor's strike zone, which fueled emotions on both sides and spilled over in the sixth, when Jones yelled at Bucknor from third base and was restrained by crew chief Mike Reilly.
"It was one of the best games I've ever played in," Jones said. "We hung in there, slugging with them toe-to-toe."
Finally, there was Cardinals starter Jason Marquis' return to face his former teammates, an outing that mirrored Braves starter Russ Ortiz's performance almost down to the pitch.
The two starters' lines: 5 innings, 5 strikeouts, 6 earned runs.
"I wanted to come in here and have a good showing, and it went the other way," Marquis said. "My team kept coming back and I kept letting them down."
While Ortiz remained unbeaten since June 20, it's unlikely he'll remember this one fondly. The six runs matched his total from his last four starts combined.
Rafael Furcal had four hits, including his 12th home run, and drove in three runs. Jones' first home run, his 17th of the season, traveled an estimated 450 feet - the sixth-longest home run in Turner Field history. Andruw Jones also went deep, his 19th of the season, while a couple of spare parts, Nick Green and Eddie Perez, had two hits apiece.
Down 7-6 in the seventh, the Braves turned the game around when Cardinals right fielder Larry Walker lost Green's harmless fly ball in the sun for a double. J.D. Drew then worked former Braves reliever Ray King for a walk. One out later, Franco came off the bench to get the game-winner.
Rocky outings Pitchers Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood and Jason Marquis have not fared well against their former team since 2003.
Glavine: 1-5 with a 9.00 ERA in six career starts. Has allowed 10 homers, 31 earned runs and 15 walks in 31 innings.
Millwood: 0-6 with a 9.10 ERA in six career starts. Has allowed six homers, 31 earned runs and 17 walks in 30w innings.
Marquis: Got a no-decision Saturday. Allowed 10 hits, six earned runs and four homers in five innings.
Sources: Staff, Associated Press