Finally, they did something to help their new team.
Mondesi homered leading off the bottom of the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, giving Kolb his first win with the Braves.
Mondesi was batting just .200 when he connected on the second pitch from James Journell (0-1). It was the fifth game-winning homer of Mondesi's career, the last coming on Aug. 2, 2003, with Arizona.
"This is a good feeling," he said. "When you come to a new team, you want to show everybody you can do the job. I've been trying too hard."
Journell, picking up the first decision of his brief career, threw his opening pitch to the backstop. He then grooved a 93 mph fastball that Mondesi drove deep into the left-field seats, the outfielders barely moving as it soared over the wall.
"I look for the fastball all the time," Mondesi said. "I knew this guy threw hard."
Kolb (1-2) had some big shoes to fill after being acquired from Milwaukee during the offseason. John Smoltz moved back into the starting rotation, passing off the closer's job to Kolb.
He struggled most of the month, coming into the game with six saves but an ERA of 8.00.
Then, he made a winning prediction in the bottom half.
"I'm not going to brag or anything but when that first pitch hit the backstop, I said, 'He's going to groove one for a homer.' Three seconds later, the ball was leaving the park," Kolb said.
Johnny Estrada and Andruw Jones had back-to-back singles, and Mondesi walked to load the bases with none out. When manager Tony La Russa went to the mound to make a pitching change, Reyes began jawing with plate umpire Dale Scott over several calls that could have gone either way.
La Russa didn't last much longer. After Scott called a ball on a borderline pitch, the manager ran out of the dugout and was quickly tossed, too.
La Russa was livid about the Braves' tactics.
"Sooner or later, they're going to beat the umpires down," he said. "They argue everything. They are a class organization, but they fuss and moan about everything. Maybe that's their strategy, but that's not to be admired."
The Braves didn't get every call. Chipper Jones was clearly hit on the top of the foot with an 0-2 pitch, but Scott called it a ball. That didn't matter, either -- Flores wound up walking Jones to force in the tying run.
With the bases still loaded and none out, the Braves failed to push across the go-ahead run. Rafael Furcal flied out to short right, pinch-hitter Julio Franco struck out and Marcus Giles grounded out.
Morris remained 1-5 in his career against the Braves -- the only NL team to saddle him with a mark below .500. Not that he hasn't been effective, posting a 3.11 ERA in 13 appearances vs. Atlanta.
"I don't have a good record against them at all," said Morris, who allowed just four hits and a run. "If it had been the middle of the season, they probably would have let me go back out in the seventh. But I'm coming off (shoulder) surgery, and our bullpen has been nothing but great all year."
One night after scoring four runs in the first inning off Tim Hudson, the Cardinals had another quick start against John Thomson. Pujols had a run-scoring double in the first, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, and St. Louis added an unearned run in the second after Pete Orr botched a grounder at third while filling in for the injured Chipper Jones. Light-hitting Yadier Molina took advantage with an RBI double.
The Braves manufactured their lone run off Morris in the second. Adam LaRoche doubled, tagged up on a flyout, then came home on Estrada's sacrifice fly.
Thomson scattered eight hits over six innings, keeping the Braves in the game.
After he left, St. Louis appeared to score two runs in the seventh on Jim Edmonds' single to right. But the Braves argued successfully that Pujols, who briefly froze between first and second, was struck in the leg with the hit. The four umpires reversed their call after getting together.
|Raul Mondesi jogs after his walk-off homer, the fifth winning dinger of his career. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||5||0||1||0||0||0||1||.260|
|Larry Walker, RF||5||1||1||0||0||3||3||.264|
|Jimmy Journell, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.322|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.258|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||3||.268|
|Reggie Sanders, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.213|
|Mark Grudzielanek, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.329|
|Yadier Molina, C||3||0||2||1||1||0||0||.162|
|Matt Morris, P||3||0||1||0||0||0||3||.125|
|Al Reyes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Randy Flores, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Roger Cedeno, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.160|
|Ray King, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|So Taguchi, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.370|
|a-grounded out for Flores in the 8th|
|2B - Albert Pujols 2 (8, Thomson, Thomson), Yadier Molina (2, Thomson)|
|RBI - Albert Pujols (19), Yadier Molina (3)|
|CS - Scott Rolen (1, 2nd base by Thomson/Estrada)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Randy Flores (BS,1)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||5.19|
|Jimmy Journell (L,0-1)||0||1||1||1||0||0||1||7.36|
|Pitches-Strikes - Matt Morris 90-64, Al Reyes 10-5, Randy Flores 14-8, Ray King 9-7, Jimmy Journell 2-1|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Morris 3-7, Randy Flores 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Matt Morris 23, Al Reyes 3, Randy Flores 4, Ray King 4, Jimmy Journell 1|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.228|
|Pete Orr, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.289|
|a- Julio Franco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||.243|
|Chris Reitsma, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Danny Kolb, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Marcus Giles, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.323|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.206|
|Brian Jordan, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.241|
|Johnny Estrada, C||2||0||1||1||0||1||0||.242|
|Ryan Langerhans, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.150|
|Wilson Betemit, 3B||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.235|
|Andruw Jones, CF||4||0||3||0||0||0||1||.239|
|Raul Mondesi, RF||3||1||1||1||1||0||2||.210|
|John Thomson, P||2||0||1||0||0||1||1||.125|
|John Foster, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kevin Gryboski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Chipper Jones, PH||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||.375|
|Jorge Sosa, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Eddie Perez, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|a-struck out for Orr in the 7th|
|b-walked for Gryboski in the 7th|
|2B - Adam LaRoche (4, Morris), Andruw Jones (4, Morris)|
|3B - Wilson Betemit (1, King)|
|HR - Raul Mondesi (3, Journell)|
|SF - Johnny Estrada (2)|
|RBI - Johnny Estrada (10), Raul Mondesi (11), Chipper Jones (14)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - Pete Orr (2, Wild throw)|
|Danny Kolb (W,1-2)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||7.20|
|IBB - Molina by John Thomson|
|HBP - Pujols (by Kevin Gryboski)|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Thomson 108-72, John Foster 8-5, Kevin Gryboski 5-4, Chris Reitsma 8-5, Danny Kolb 10-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Thomson 9-4, John Foster 1-0, Chris Reitsma 3-0, Danny Kolb 1-1|
|Batters Faced - John Thomson 27, John Foster 2, Kevin Gryboski 3, Chris Reitsma 4, Danny Kolb 3|
|Attendance - 35789|
|Game Time - 2:55|
|Temperature - 63|
|Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Tim Tschida, Third Base - Ron Kulpa|