ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves catcher Eddie Perez is ready to vote for the team's top starting pitcher -- and his pick is not John Smoltz or Tim Hudson.
After watching Mike Hampton shut down the Philadelphia Phillies for 8 2/3 innings in the Braves' 6-2 win Friday night, Perez said the veteran left-hander is pitching like an ace.
"Since spring I told everybody he's my number one pitcher," Perez said. "The way he's pitching, it's incredible."
In four starts, Hampton (2-0) has allowed a total of four earned runs for a 1.17 ERA. Friday was the first time he had given up more than two runs in a game.
Asked if he has had a better start to a season, Hampton said, "Not that I can remember."
In two no-decisions, Hampton gave up one earned run in 14 innings.
The Braves, 15th in the NL in runs scored, enjoyed an offensive resurgence against one of baseball's stingiest pitchers this season.
Brett Myers' 0.44 ERA before Friday night was the second-best in the league, just behind Roger Clemens' 0.43. Myers (1-1) had not yielded an earned run in his last 17 1/3 innings and was allowing only a .189 batting average before he gave up six hits, four walks and four runs to the Braves in six innings as his ERA climbed to 1.71.
Marcus Giles hit his first home run of the season and Andruw Jones snapped the longest hitting drought of his career as the Braves juggled their lineup.
Jones was 0-for-28 when his run-scoring double capped the Braves' three-run third inning. Adam LaRoche also homered for the Braves.
The Braves, who scored only seven runs while going 2-4 in their last six games, scored their most runs since an 11-4 win at Philadelphia on April 15.
"We've been pressing offensively," Giles said. "Everybody has been struggling."
Giles, normally No. 2 in the lineup, hit third and Chipper Jones moved down one spot to hit fourth. Jones drove in the Braves' first run with a first-inning single and then reached on three walks.
"Chipper's three walks were good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We don't have to try to win the ballgame with every swing. Good things happen when you get walks, too."
Hampton and the Braves led 4-1 after the three-run third inning.
"Myers has been one of the toughest guys in baseball, so that's got to be a big confidence boost for us," Hampton said. "It's nice to have a little breathing room."
Myers said he struggled to adjust to the Turner Field mound.
"My body was going to the right," Myers said. "My hands were breaking too late and I wasn't getting a good downhill plane. I got it dug out about the fourth inning, then it got better."
Hampton came within one out of his first complete game since May 2004, allowing seven hits in 8 2/3 innings. Dan Kolb recorded the final out for his sixth save, striking out pinch-hitter Jim Thome with the bases loaded.
Thome was held out of the starting lineup with a stiff back, a problem he has had since spring training. The threat of potential rain delays helped convince manager Charlie Manuel to rest Thome until the ninth, when Thome hit a flyball to left to end the game.
Hampton gave up a first-inning run when Placido Polanco hit a one-out double, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Bobby Abreu's sacrifice fly to left.
Cox gave regular starting outfielders Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi a day off, saying both needed a rest, and instead started rookies Ryan Langerhans in right field and Pete Orr, normally a utility infielder, in left.
Orr said he last played in the outfield in winter ball. His rust showed in the first inning when he ran into Andruw Jones in center as the two were chasing the double by Polanco. But Orr made a nice running catch of a drive by David Bell to end the fourth.
In the third inning, Orr doubled to left and scored on Giles' homer that bounced off the yellow strip at the top of the right-field wall and into the stands.
Myers then walked Chipper Jones, who scored on Andruw Jones' run-scoring double to give the Braves a 4-1 lead.
"I finally got a pitch to handle," said Andruw Jones, who hit sixth in his return to the lineup. Jones was held out of the lineup Thursday, though he played as a defensive replacement.
The Phillies closed to 4-2 in the seventh. Jason Michaels walked, moved to second on an error and scored on Bell's double to right.
Chipper Jones' third walk preceded LaRoche's second homer of the year, a two-run shot off Terry Adams in the seventh inning for a 6-2 lead.
Myers had a balk in the third. ... Orr has appeared in every game this season, though it was only his eighth start. ... The Phillies issued 17 walks in their first 16 games -- the fewest in the NL -- before walking six Braves.
|Players of the Game|
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|Jimmy Rollins, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.278|
|Placido Polanco, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.262|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||3||0||0||1||0||1||1||.269|
|Pat Burrell, LF||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.328|
|Jason Michaels, CF||2||1||1||0||2||0||1||.400|
|Jose Offerman, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.167|
|David Bell, 3B||4||0||3||1||0||0||1||.246|
|Mike Lieberthal, C||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.229|
|Brett Myers, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|a- Kenny Lofton, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.378|
|Terry Adams, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Aaron Fultz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Jim Thome, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||3||.228|
|a-struck out for Myers in the 7th|
|b-fouled out for Fultz in the 9th|
|2B - Placido Polanco 2 (2, Hampton, Hampton), Pat Burrell (4, Hampton), David Bell 2 (6, Hampton, Hampton)|
|SF - Bobby Abreu (1)|
|RBI - Bobby Abreu (7), David Bell (7)|
|CS - Jason Michaels (1, 2nd base by Hampton/Perez)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Brett Myers (L,1-1)||6||6||4||4||4||7||1||1.71|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brett Myers 99-56, Terry Adams 27-16, Aaron Fultz 9-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brett Myers 6-5, Terry Adams 2-0, Aaron Fultz 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Brett Myers 28, Terry Adams 6, Aaron Fultz 3|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||1||0||0||1||1||1||.216|
|Pete Orr, LF||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.278|
|Marcus Giles, 2B||4||1||2||2||0||1||1||.324|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||1||2||1||1||3||0||0||.377|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||3||1||1||2||1||0||1||.229|
|Andruw Jones, CF||3||0||1||1||1||1||4||.183|
|Ryan Langerhans, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||2||.158|
|Eddie Perez, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.182|
|Mike Hampton, P||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.333|
|Danny Kolb, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|2B - Pete Orr (2, Myers), Marcus Giles (5, Myers), Andruw Jones (2, Myers), Eddie Perez (2, Myers)|
|HR - Marcus Giles (1, Myers), Adam LaRoche (2, Adams)|
|SH - Pete Orr (1)|
|RBI - Marcus Giles 2 (2), Chipper Jones (11), Adam LaRoche 2 (9), Andruw Jones (5)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chipper Jones (4), Adam LaRoche 2 (9), Andruw Jones (1)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Furcal-Giles-LaRoche|
|E - Marcus Giles (2, Wild throw)|
|Mike Hampton (W,2-0)||8.2||7||2||2||3||4||0||1.17|
|Danny Kolb (S,6)||0.1||0||0||0||1||0||0||7.36|
|WP - Mike Hampton (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mike Hampton 118-75, Danny Kolb 8-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Hampton 12-8|
|Batters Faced - Mike Hampton 34, Danny Kolb 2|
|Attendance - 26837|
|Game Time - 2:16|
|Temperature - 62|
|Umpires - Home - Ed Hickox, First Base - Marvin Hudson, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Eric Cooper|