Originally created 09/17/06

Smoltz scores inspired win

ATLANTA - One of them is only the second player to win more than 150 games and save more than 150 games.

The other is the owner of the majors' only no-hitter since 2004.

So it was no surprise that, when 39-year-old John Smoltz and 22-year-old Anibal Sanchez faced off Saturday in front of 28,392 fans at Turner Field, a pitching duel would break out.

It did. And the veteran came out on top.

"I had a lot of inner desire and I wasn't going to lose," said Smoltz (13-9), who scattered eight hits over eight innings as the Braves won, 2-1.

Despite giving up two runs off eight hits, Sanchez (8-3) took the loss. Atlanta closer Bob Wickman pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his 15th save of the season for the Braves and his 30th overall.

Atlanta (71-77) crept one game closer to their goal of giving manager Bobby Cox his 16th consecutive winning season. They need 11 more wins to go 82-80, another 10 to get to .500.

Smoltz struck out eight and walked three to snap a personal three-game losing streak.

"If there's a definition of deserving the win, that was it," Marcus Giles, who drove in the game-winning run with a double in the seventh, said of Smoltz. "He stuck it out and we battled for him."

Stuck it out through 111 pitches, giving up no earned runs after a scoring change following the game turned a Miguel Cabrera RBI single into an Edgar Renteria error.

"Just Smoltzie battling, holding them to one run, I think, was the biggest part," Giles said. "And that way, it gave us time to finally figure out Sanchez a little bit and put a couple (runs) up there."

Giles drove in the deciding run when he smashed a slider into left-center field in the seventh, scoring Ryan Langerhans from second.

For the Braves, who are six games out of the wild card with 14 to go, finishing the season on a positive note has largely come down to a matter of pride.

But that should be enough, Giles said.

"I think when you're at this level and you're a professional," he said, "I think you have to have some pride in what you do. ... I think we're too professional and have too much pride just to throw in the towel."


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