Reliever stars in Braves' win over the Mets

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ATLANTA --- Chipper Jones says the Atlanta Braves should have had more than one All-Star this year.

He says Rafael Soriano proved again against the New York Mets that he is closing games like a star.

Jones drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Soriano capped three scoreless innings by Atlanta's bullpen as the Braves beat the Mets 5-3 on Thursday night.

"He's been automatic, every time out," Jones, a six-time All-Star, said of Soriano. "He should have been an All-Star. I can't believe he didn't make it."

Jones' two-out fielding error in the ninth on Brian Schneider's grounder to third kept Soriano from his seventh 1-2-3 inning in his past nine appearances. He lowered his ERA to 1.44 and has 13 saves in 14 chances.

Soriano struck out pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed to end the game with a 96 mph fastball.

Manny Acosta (1-0), Peter Moylan and Soriano combined to give up only one hit in three scoreless innings.

Catcher Brian McCann was the Braves' only All-Star in Tuesday night's game.

The Braves broke a 3-3 tie against the New York bullpen, which gave up two runs in two innings.

Pedro Feliciano (2-3) walked pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, who advanced to third on Martin Prado's hit-and-run single to left off Bobby Parnell. Jones, a .330 career hitter against the Mets, drove in Conrad with a single to right off Parnell to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.

"You expect Chipper to deliver every time," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

The win left the Braves (44-45) one game under .500 and 11/2 games ahead of the fourth-place Mets (42-46) in the NL East.

Pinch-hitter Greg Norton added a run-scoring single off Pat Misch, New York's third reliever, in the eighth.

Jeff Francoeur was 0 for 4 with an RBI in his return to Atlanta following Friday's trade to the Mets. He tipped his cap in response to the cheers from fans in right field in the first inning and received a loud ovation before lining into a double play in his first at-bat.


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