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St. Louis at Atlanta

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St. Louis021000000390
Atlanta «00500010x6100

Braves hand Cardinals seventh straight loss on road

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- With three scoreless innings, the Atlanta Braves' beleaguered bullpen finally supported John Smoltz.

"That's what we have to have," Smoltz said. "They're grinding it out and doing everything they can."

Smoltz won for the first time in eight starts, and Atlanta hit four home runs in a 6-3 victory over the struggling St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.

Coming off the worst month in franchise history, the Braves have won two straight for the first time since May 27-28, a span of 33 games.

The Cardinals, losers of 11 of 13, maintained a one-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central. St. Louis has dropped seven straight on the road.

Smoltz (5-5) and Cardinals rookie Anthony Reyes (1-3) both returned following a 55-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third.

"Definitely give credit to Smoltz," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He made enough good pitches, but I thought our approach against whoever was pitching was outstanding the whole night."

A steady drizzle began falling before the Braves batted in the third, and Marcus Giles and Edgar Renteria hit back-to-back homers before play was suspended.

When play resumed, Reyes gave up Brian McCann's sixth homer, a two-run shot to right-center that put Atlanta ahead 4-3. Jeff Francoeur, who followed with a double, scored on Scott Thorman's RBI single to make it 5-3.

Smoltz allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings. After Albert Pujols hit his 28th homer -- a solo shot that gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead in the third -- Smoltz retired 11 of the last 14 batters he faced.

The right-hander struck out seven and walked none. Since pitching seven shutout innings of a 3-1 victory May 22 at San Diego, Smoltz had gone 0-3 with a 5.55 ERA in seven previous starts.

Smoltz had watched Atlanta's bullpen, which entered with 17 blown saves in 33 chances, give up leads he handed over in six of his eight no-decisions.

The outcome was different this time.

Right-hander Chad Paronto pitched the seventh, getting Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play. Ken Ray worked the eighth and new closer Jorge Sosa pitched the ninth, earning his third save in four chances.

"It's first and third with one out and Pujols is hitting -- I don't care if it's the nastiest pitcher in the league -- that's big," Smoltz said of Paronto. "We'll turn it around if we do this more often than not."

Smoltz also retired Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds in the fifth with two runners on.

"You've got a guy like Smoltz out there cruising along, giving up a hit here and there, then he bears down and makes his pitches," Edmonds said. "Maybe he gets more intense, makes good pitches and gets out of jams. It's tough to score on a guy like that. He's not just a guy in the league. He's one of the best pitchers of our era."

Atlanta's Ryan Langerhans hit his sixth homer in the seventh, a solo shot on rookie Josh Kinney's first pitch in the majors.

Reyes, who faced Atlanta for the first time, allowed six hits, five runs and three walks in five innings. The right-hander, who struck out five, has lost three straight starts.

"I just felt like I was battling myself today, trying to keep the ball down," Reyes said. "Just a couple pitches up in the zone - they didn't come back."

Aaron Miles' two-run double in the second put the Cardinals up 2-0.

Notes

  • Braves 3B Chipper Jones missed his second straight start and will see a specialist Tuesday after an MRI revealed a partial tear in his right foot.
  • The Cardinals optioned RHP Brad Thompson to Triple-A Memphis and recalled OF Chris Duncan.
  • Back spasms forced Atlanta 1B Adam LaRoche from the lineup. Thorman started in his place.
  • Atlanta last hit three homers in an inning in a May 28 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
  • The Braves hit into four double plays.
 
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 allows three runs in six innings, retiring 11 of the last 14 batters he faces.  (AP)
John Smoltz allows three runs in six innings, retiring 11 of the last 14 batters he faces. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

B. McCann
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Atlanta

M. Giles
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4020011
Chris Duncan, LF3010010
Albert Pujols, 1B4121002
Scott Rolen, 3B4000003
Jim Edmonds, CF4120012
Juan Encarnacion, RF4110021
Yadier Molina, C4000022
Aaron Miles, 2B4012010
Anthony Reyes, P2000011
    Randy Flores, P0000000
   a- John Rodriguez, PH1000010
    Josh Kinney, P0000000
   b- Scott Spiezio, PH1000000
Totals3539301012 
a-struck out for Flores in the 7th
b-lined out for Kinney in the 9th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (, Paronto), Albert Pujols (, Smoltz), Aaron Miles (, Smoltz)
HR - Albert Pujols (, Smoltz)
RBI - Albert Pujols (), Aaron Miles 2 ()
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Juan Encarnacion 1
DP - Miles-Eckstein-Pujols, Molina-Eckstein, Eckstein-Miles-Pujols, Eckstein-Miles-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Anthony Reyes (L,-) 5655353
Randy Flores 1000010
Josh Kinney 2411021
HBP - Giles (by Anthony Reyes), Francoeur (by Anthony Reyes)
Pitches-Strikes - Anthony Reyes 85-46, Randy Flores 10-6, Josh Kinney 36-22
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anthony Reyes 4-2, Josh Kinney 2-1
Batters Faced - Anthony Reyes 22, Randy Flores 3, Josh Kinney 9
Atlanta Braves
Marcus Giles, 2B3121000
Edgar Renteria, SS3111102
Wilson Betemit, 3B4010021
Andruw Jones, CF2100211
Brian McCann, C4122001
Jeff Francoeur, RF3120000
Scott Thorman, 1B4011023
Ryan Langerhans, LF3111011
John Smoltz, P2000020
    Chad Paronto, P0000000
   a- Pete Orr, PH1000000
    Ken Ray, P0000000
    Jorge Sosa, P0000000
Totals296106389 
a-grounded out for Paronto in the 7th
Batting
2B - Brian McCann (, Kinney), Jeff Francoeur (, An. Reyes)
HR - Marcus Giles (, An. Reyes), Edgar Renteria (, An. Reyes), Brian McCann (, An. Reyes), Ryan Langerhans (, Kinney)
RBI - Marcus Giles (), Edgar Renteria (), Brian McCann 2 (), Scott Thorman (), Ryan Langerhans ()
2-OUT RBI - Brian McCann 2 (), Scott Thorman ()
CS - Jeff Francoeur (, 2nd base by An. Reyes/Molina)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Betemit-Giles-Thorman
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (W,-) 6733071
Chad Paronto (H,) 1200010
Ken Ray (H,) 1000020
Jorge Sosa (S,) 1000000
HBP - Duncan (by John Smoltz)
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 86-64, Chad Paronto 14-10, Ken Ray 14-11, Jorge Sosa 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 7-4, Chad Paronto 1-0, Jorge Sosa 1-2
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 26, Chad Paronto 4, Ken Ray 3, Jorge Sosa 3
Game Information
Attendance - 40011
Game Time - 2:28
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Tim Welke, Third Base - Kerwin Danley