Originally created 05/01/06

Braves' bats come alive



ATLANTA - As vigorously as he attempted to fight them, April's trials had gotten the better of Jeff Francoeur.

After an 0-for-4 night Saturday dropped the Atlanta right fielder's average to .185, Francoeur retreated to his couch, where he realized it was time to dig for motivational reserves.

So he turned to his inspirational movie collection.

He watched Russell Crowe play a beleaguered Roman warrior in Gladiator and Sean Astin suit up for Notre Dame as an undersized football player in Rudy.

Clich as it sounds, the mini-marathon seemed to do the trick in an 8-5 Braves win over the Mets at Turner Field on Sunday.

Francoeur had the best game of his young career, a 4-for-5 day that included a monster home run and five RBI.

"It felt good to end the month on a good note," said Francoeur, now hitting .216. "It's been a tough month for me and a tough month for our team, really."

The Braves went 10-14 in the month for their first losing April since 2002.

No, Sunday wasn't a "must-win," those don't occur in April, but it was important to make a statement to the division front-runners, second baseman Marcus Giles said.

"We had to show the Mets that we are a team to worry about," Giles said. "We've got to show everyone that this first month has been a fluke. It's been rough for all of us, we've had our ups and downs."

The Braves, who'd lost five in a row coming in, scored as many runs in the game as they had in their past four games. The victory also prevented the Mets from going up eight games in the division.

"Eight sounds like a lot," starter Kyle Davies said. "Six is a lot, but it doesn't sound like it."

Davies (2-2) got the job done Sunday by allowing three runs in five innings.

After the Mets tied the game at 3-3 in the third, Francoeur's bloop single in the bottom of the inning scored Andruw Jones.

After Mets starter Steve Trachsel (2-2) walked the bases loaded an inning later, Francoeur drove in two more runs with a two-out single.

Two innings later, he capped his day with a 436-foot blast to left-center field.

Reach R. Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.