Originally created 06/08/06

Gimmick doesn't help Braves



ATLANTA - So much for the Atlanta Braves' mustache mojo.

Atlanta lost for the eighth time in 10 games Wednesday, 5-2, to the Washington Nationals before a Turner Field crowd of 32, 001 fans.

The defeat caps a 10-game homestand in which the Braves looked so lost they shaved their facial hair Fu Manchu-style to try and change their luck.

It didn't work. They went 1-2 with the handlebar look - the group shave happened Monday before the start of the Nationals series - and head out of town on a seven-game road trip with a 29-31 record.

Atlanta will be in Texas tonight to open a four-game series against their nemesis, the Houston Astros. The Astros have eliminated the Braves from the playoffs the past two years.

Washington's No. 6 hitters downed the Braves on Wednesday. Marlon Anderson hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and Daryle Ward doubled in two runs.

Veteran John Smoltz took the loss for the second consecutive start. He gave up a double to lead off the game to Alfonso Soriano only to retire 17 of the next 20 hitters he faced.

The Nationals' Nick Johnson broke the spell in the sixth inning with a two-out double. Ryan Zimmerman followed with another double to score Johnson and was on second when Anderson hit his second home run of the season.

Smoltz (4-4) allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out eight. The 39-year-old has pitched six or more innings in all but two of his 13 starts this season.

Pete Orr hit a pinch-hit home run in the seventh for Atlanta. Adam LaRoche also drove in a run.

Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or adam.vanbrimmer@morris.com.