Record-day as Atlanta snaps skid

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ATLANTA - If the Braves fail to make the playoffs this season, it won't be the fault of slugger Mark Teixeira or pitching ace John Smoltz.

John Smoltz became the Braves' all-time leader in strikeouts and helped Atlanta snap a three-game skid.  Associated Press
Associated Press
John Smoltz became the Braves' all-time leader in strikeouts and helped Atlanta snap a three-game skid.

Teixeira belted two two-run homers and Smoltz struck out 12 to gain the Braves franchise record while holding the Diamondbacks to five hits Sunday in Atlanta's 6-2 win over Arizona.

The performance by the veteran right-hander, who surpassed Phil Niekro's franchise record of 2,912 strikeouts with flying colors, was a much-needed quality start that helped the Braves avoid a sweep by the Diamondbacks. Smoltz (11-6) totaled 12 strikeouts in eight innings, before giving way to reliever Bob Wickman, who allowed no runs despite loading the bases.

It was the second time this season that Smoltz recorded double-digit strikeouts, and the 42nd time in his probable Hall of Fame career. It's the most strikeouts he's recorded in a single game since 2005 against the New York Mets.

"It was very much a must-win situation for us, and I approached it like that," said Smoltz, 40, who is 16th on the list of baseball's all-time strikeout leaders. "I'm trying to get to where I need to be down the stretch. I fought through the first three innings."

Smoltz has 2,920 strikeouts to 2,912 for "Knucksie."

"I didn't know I had done that," said Smoltz of breaking the franchise record. "Niekro is an Atlanta icon. It's an honor."

The Braves (65-59) remain 5 games behind the Mets - who beat the Nationals 8-2 - in the National League East and start a 10-game road trip today in Cincinnati.

Teixeira helped Atlanta overcome an early deficit with a towering shot to the center field bleachers in the first and a line drive into the right field stands in the third inning. Kelly Johnson's first of two doubles preceded Teixeira's first home run and the second baseman was on base again when Teixeira hit his second homer. Smoltz then settled into an effective groove, pitching five consecutive scoreless innings.

Reach David Lundy at david.lundy@morris.com.

King of K's

With a season-high 12 strikeouts Sunday against Arizona, John Smoltz passed Phil Niekro to become the Braves' franchise leader:


Player - With Braves K's - K's Total

John Smoltz - 2,920 - 2,920

Phil Niekro - 2,912 - 3,342

Warren Spahn - 2,493 - 2,583

Tom Glavine - 2,054 - 2,555

Greg Maddux - 1,828 - 3,249

Kid Nichols - 1,672 - 1,873

Vic Willis - 1,161 - 1,651

Jim Whitney - 1,157 - 1,571

Lew Burdette - 923 - 1,074

Charlie Buffinton - 911 - 1,700

Smoltz ranks 16th on the all-time strikeouts list.

Player - Total K's

Nolan Ryan - 5,714

Roger Clemens - 4,661

Randy Johnson - 4,616

Steve Carlton - 4,136

Burt Blyleven - 3,701

Tom Seaver - 3,640

Don Sutton - 3,574

Gaylord Perry - 3,534

Walter Johnson - 3,508

Phil Niekro - 3,342

The right-hander is sixth among active pitchers:

Player, Team - K's

Roger Clemens, Yankees - 4,661

Randy Johnson, D'backs - 4,616

Greg Maddux, Padres - 3,249

Curt Schilling, Red Sox - 3,094

Pedro Martinez, Red Sox - 2,998

John Smoltz, Braves - 2,920

Mike Mussina, Yankees - 2,647

Tom Glavine, Mets - 2,555

David Wells, Free Agent - 2,112

Jamie Moyer, Phillies - 2,091

Source: atlantabraves.com, mlb.com


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