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Smoltz tosses complete game five-hitter for Braves

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- John Smoltz never forgot how the Florida Marlins battered him in the season opener.

"I won't call it an embarrassing moment, but a lot of people flew in for that game," Smoltz said after pitching the Atlanta Braves past Florida 5-0 Tuesday night. "A lot of those same people were at the game tonight. I wanted them to see at least more than an inning and two-thirds."

Smoltz threw his first shutout in six years and Andruw Jones hit his 20th homer for the Braves. It was also Smoltz's second complete game in three starts.

"I've been grinding it trying to do something like this," he said. "I just feel like I'm under control with everything. I don't think too far ahead in the game."

Smoltz (7-5) fanned Matt Treanor in the seventh to pass Jack Morris for 28th place on the career strikeout list with 2,479. The Atlanta right-hander will always share a common bond with Morris after they combined for 17 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Though Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout in the Minnesota Twins' 1-0 victory that night, Smoltz learned a lot from the experience.

"It's pretty neat," Smoltz said. "Just following his career, he was a battler. I feel like I'm a little bit in his footsteps on the mound. That's how I feel. I'm not going to give in. This has not been a year where I go out and try to strike guys out. I think that's allowed me to go deep in the game so many times in a row."

The 38-year-old Smoltz, who earned 154 saves as Atlanta's closer before returning to the rotation this year, allowed just five hits in his 15th career shutout.

Jones' two-run shot in the seventh off reliever Chad Bentz ended the scoring.

Smoltz, who struck out six and walked two, won his third consecutive start to erase memories of the 9-0 blowout loss at Florida in the season opener. The 1996 NL Cy Young award winner improved to 7-4 since opening day and lowered his ERA during that span of 107 2/3 innings to 2.42.

The last time Smoltz pitched a shutout was April 30, 1999, at Cincinnati. He missed the 2000 season after injuring his right elbow in spring training and undergoing Tommy John surgery.

A.J. Burnett (4-5) allowed six hits, three runs and three walks in six innings for Florida. The right-hander struck out four as he dropped to 1-4 in his last nine starts.

"No matter how hard you throw, you've got to hit your spots," said Burnett, who hit 98 mph a couple of times in the first three innings. "When I threw it down the middle, they hit it. We have to figure out a way to win. I do, at least."

Smoltz, who pitched a complete game in a 5-3 win over Oakland on June 11, has pitched at least eight innings in four consecutive starts. The current streak marks the fifth time in his career that Smoltz has reached that mark and the first time since August 1997.

He credits the addition of a change-up to balancing his reputation as a power pitcher.

"I've been working hard on it," Smoltz said. "It's been one of my pitches that's coming along as the season goes on. It helps keep my pitch count low, keeps them off my fastball a little bit."

After taking a 1-0 lead on Jones' RBI groundout in the first, the Braves scored twice in the fifth. Kelly Johnson's RBI groundout made it 2-0 before Adam LaRoche drove in Pete Orr from second on an opposite-field single to left.

Burnett walked the bases loaded with one out in the third, but escaped trouble when LaRoche took a called third strike and Wilson Betemit hit into a fielder's choice.

Florida right fielder Jeff Conine credited Smoltz's location with his team's problem scoring runs.

"With the people we have out there, runs should come a little easier," Conine said. "You can't explain it. Bottom line -- we're just not doing the job."

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, one win from tying Walter Alston for seventh place on the career victories list with 2,040, had reliever Chris Reitsma warming up in case Smoltz struggled in the ninth.

"John wanted to finish it," Cox said. "That's what we all wanted, to see him go out and dominate like that. It was fun."

Notes

  • Marlins C Paul Lo Duca left in the fourth with a bruised right foot. X-rays were negative. Treanor replaced Lo Duca, who is day-to-day.
  • Orr, whose start gave Marcus Giles the night off, was charged with two errors, the first on Carlos Delgado's grounder in the third, but SS Rafael Furcal picked up the ball and threw out Miguel Cabrera at third to end the inning.
  • Delgado extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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John Smoltz pumps his fist after completing his first shutout since April 30, 1999.  (AP)
John Smoltz pumps his fist after completing his first shutout since April 30, 1999. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

A. Jones
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Atlanta

J. Smoltz
IP 9.0
H 5
ER 0
BB 2
K 6
 
Florida Marlins
Juan Pierre, CF4000000 .249
Luis Castillo, 2B4000000 .326
Miguel Cabrera, LF3010100 .333
Carlos Delgado, 1B4010013 .325
Mike Lowell, 3B4000013 .223
Paul Lo Duca, C1000100 .291
    Matt Treanor, C2000010 .286
Jeff Conine, RF4020000 .279
Alex Gonzalez, SS4010003 .279
A.J. Burnett, P2000022 .063
   a- Joe Dillon, PH1000001 .167
    Chad Bentz, P0000000 .000
    Travis Smith, P0000000 .000
   b- Damion Easley, PH1000011 .244
Totals340502613 
a-grounded out for Burnett in the 7th
b-struck out for Smith in the 9th
Fielding
PB - Paul Lo Duca (1)
E - Miguel Cabrera (4, Wild throw)
Florida Marlins
A.J. Burnett (L,4-5) 6633340 3.43
Chad Bentz 1222001 31.50
Travis Smith 1100100 7.20
WP - A.J. Burnett 2 (6)
Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 105-66, Chad Bentz 14-9, Travis Smith 22-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 12-2, Travis Smith 2-1
Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 27, Chad Bentz 5, Travis Smith 5
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS5110002 .220
Pete Orr, 2B2220100 .329
   a- Marcus Giles, PH-2B1110000 .286
Kelly Johnson, LF3011101 .211
Andruw Jones, CF3113101 .266
Adam LaRoche, 1B4011014 .252
Wilson Betemit, 3B3010104 .330
Ryan Langerhans, RF4000012 .236
Brian McCann, C4010001 .263
John Smoltz, P4000023 .147
Totals335954418 
a-singled for Orr in the 7th
Batting
2B - Kelly Johnson (2, Burnett)
HR - Andruw Jones (20, Bentz)
RBI - Kelly Johnson (13), Andruw Jones 3 (46), Adam LaRoche (41)
2-OUT RBI - Andruw Jones 2 (21), Adam LaRoche (25)
SB - Rafael Furcal (24, 2nd base off Burnett/Treanor), Pete Orr (3, 2nd base off Burnett/Lo Duca)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Wilson Betemit (5, Misplayed grounder), Pete Orr 2 (5, )
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (W,7-5) 9500260 2.88
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 123-87
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 15-8
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 36
Game Information
Attendance - 28686
Game Time - 2:26
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Alfonso Marquez, Second Base - Rick Reed, Third Base - Terry Craft