ATLANTA - John Smoltz wasn't in danger Friday of leaving another win up to the Atlanta Braves' bullpen.
Atlanta relievers cost the veteran hurler two victories with shaky showings earlier this season. Smoltz tossed a complete game Friday night as Atlanta opened a seven-game home stand with a 6-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Smoltz allowed two runs on four hits in front of a crowd of 31,818 at Turner Field. The win is the Braves' fourth in five games and raises their season record to 16-19.
The complete game is the second of the season for Smoltz (3-2) and the 52nd of his 19-year career. He struck out seven and didn't allow a walk.
Smoltz passed Chuck Finley for 21st on baseball's all-time strikeout list by sitting down Royce Clayton in the eighth inning. He has 2,611 career strikeouts.
Smoltz dominated from the start. He faced the minimum 12 hitters through four innings. He allowed a single to Alfonso Soriano leading off the third but coaxed the next hitter, Marlon Byrd, into a groundball double play.
Nick Johnson broke Smoltz's string in the fifth inning by doubling off the center-field wall. Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run two batters later, but Atlanta still led 3-2.
Atlanta gave Smoltz early run support, scoring twice in the first thanks to a well-executed hit-and-run play by Chipper Jones.
Edgar Renteria set up the hit-and-run with a one-out single. Jones followed with a grounder to shortstop, but Washington's Royce Clayton was out of position, covering second base on Renteria's apparent steal attempt.
Renteria went to third on the play, which rattled Washington starter Ramon Ortiz. He walked the next hitter, Andruw Jones, and allowed an RBI single to Brian McCann.
Chipper Jones scored the Braves' second run of the inning on a Jeff Franceour groundout.
Atlanta made it 3-0 in the fourth inning. Adam LaRoche led off with a line drive that bounced off Ortiz. The pitcher recovered but threw wildly to first. The error allowed LaRoche to go third base and score on a Ryan Langerhans single.
The Braves finally chased Ortiz out of the game with three runs in the seventh inning. Andruw Jones drove in one run - prompting Ortiz's exit - and Franceour knocked in two more with a single off reliever Jason Bergmann.
Franceour's single continued his recent offensive surge. It extended his hitting streak to 10 games and he has 17 RBI in his past 16 games.
Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Bazemore/associated press
John Smoltz kept the Nationals frustrated Friday night, giving up only two runs on four hits. He also climbed to No. 21 on the all-time strikeouts list.
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