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Pittsburgh at Atlanta

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Smoltz strikes out 10 in shutout to lead Braves over Pirates

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- John Smoltz knows the Atlanta Braves may not make it to the playoffs this year.

"If nothing else, let's find a way to get to .500 and see what happens," he said Monday night after pitching the Braves to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Smoltz (11-6) won his fifth straight home start, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and combining on a four-hitter.

"He's amazing," 22-year-old catcher Brian McCann said of the 39-year-old Smoltz. "He's the captain of this team. We needed a big performance from him to start the homestand."

Smoltz struck out 10, allowing three hits and one walk in eight innings in his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the season, the 40th of his career.

"We've come to expect that kind of outing out of him every time," Chipper Jones said.

Atlanta (59-65) is 5½ games behind Cincinnati, the NL wild-card leader, with less than six weeks to play. The Braves have won 14 consecutive division titles -- all with Smoltz.

"We're too good of a team not to be at least .500," he said. "We may not be a great team. We may not make the playoffs, but we have to get to .500. That should be the focus."

Smoltz retired 14 consecutive batters starting with the final out of the first.

"I really think that John mislocated only two pitches all night," Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. "He used very little of the plate all night long."

Last Wednesday at Washington, Smoltz allowed six runs in a 9-6 loss -- his only defeat since June 13.

"I was pretty embarrassed about my last game," he said. "I felt like I let the team down. I don't know if this will make sense, but I was into every pitch as much as I've ever been in my life today, just to turn it around."

Smoltz put more emphasis on his splitter and saved his curveball for his last two innings. He threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of 29 hitters.

"I felt like I was strike one on almost everybody," Smoltz said. "I had a really good split today, which I haven't had all year. To break it out today was encouraging to me for the rest of the season."

Pittsburgh's only hits off Smoltz were singles by Chris Duffy in the sixth and by Jose Castillo and Duffy with two outs in the eighth. Smoltz then retired Jack Wilson on a groundout.

"He's the same dominating guy he's always been," Pittsburgh's Jeromy Burnitz said.

Bob Wickman finished with a one-hit ninth for his ninth straight save since the Braves acquired him from Cleveland on July 20. With its fourth shutout of the season, Atlanta broke a tie with Washington for fewest in the National League.

Two defensive plays helped out Smoltz. Shortstop Edgar Renteria made a charging, barehanded pickup in front of second base before throwing out Freddy Sanchez in the sixth, and left fielder Matt Diaz made a diving catch of a Xavier Nady's line drive to end the seventh.

Pittsburgh's Zach Duke (8-11) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"Your mind-set in a game like that is basically to stay ahead," Duke said before adding "Pitch the way Smoltz did."

Renteria hit an RBI double in the third, and Martin Prado hit a two-run double in the fifth. They were the first major league RBI for Prado, who was 1-for-5 before he was sent to the minor leagues on April 25. Atlanta recalled him earlier Monday.

Prado said he tried to follow the advice of hitting coach Terry Pendleton.

"He tells me, 'Don't try to do too much, just swing,'" Prado said. "I'm so glad something like that happened."

Atlanta had runners thrown out on the bases in the third and fourth innings. Prado was out at the plate in the third on shortstop Jack Wilson's relay throw from left fielder Jason Bay following Renteria's double. Jeff Francoeur was thrown out by Bay at second when he tried to stretch a single in the fourth.

Notes

  • The Pirates have been shut out 10 times, tied with Colorado and Houston for second in the NL behind Chicago (12).
  • Pittsburgh is 6-25 in Atlanta since going 4-1 in 1997.
  • The game lasted 1 hour, 59 minutes, matching the Braves' shortest this season.
 
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 pitches eight innings and strikes out 10 to help shut out the Pirates.  (AP)
John Smoltz pitches eight innings and strikes out 10 to help shut out the Pirates. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

J. Smoltz
IP 8.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 10
Atlanta

M. Prado
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Duffy, CF4020020 .210
Jack Wilson, SS4000003 .276
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4000001 .349
Jason Bay, LF3000120 .292
Jeromy Burnitz, RF4010012 .229
Xavier Nady, 1B4000001 .275
Joe Randa, 3B3000010 .274
Ronny Paulino, C3000030 .308
Zach Duke, P2000020 .204
   a- Jose Castillo, PH1010000 .271
    Britt Reames, P0000000 .000
Totals320401117 
a-singled for Duke in the 8th
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jason Bay 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
Zach Duke (L,8-11) 7733110 4.94
Britt Reames 1100000 2.45
WP - Britt Reames (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Duke 83-54, Britt Reames 17-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Duke 12-6, Britt Reames 2-1
Batters Faced - Zach Duke 27, Britt Reames 4
Atlanta Braves
Martin Prado, 2B4022000 .333
Edgar Renteria, SS4011001 .302
Chipper Jones, 3B4010002 .324
Andruw Jones, CF4000001 .268
Jeff Francoeur, RF3020000 .260
Brian McCann, C3000011 .343
Matt Diaz, LF3110001 .340
    Ryan Langerhans, LF0000000 .240
Adam LaRoche, 1B2210100 .272
John Smoltz, P1000000 .146
    Bob Wickman, P0000000 .000
Totals28383116 
Batting
2B - Martin Prado (1, Duke), Edgar Renteria (28, Duke), Jeff Francoeur (20, Duke)
SH - John Smoltz 2 (15)
RBI - Martin Prado 2 (2), Edgar Renteria (51)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Edgar Renteria (10, )
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (W,11-6) 83001100 3.46
Bob Wickman (S,24) 1100010 2.93
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 109-75, Bob Wickman 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 7-8
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 29, Bob Wickman 4
Game Information
Attendance - 21898
Game Time - 1:59
Temperature - 90
Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Charlie Reliford