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Atlanta (6-9) «2010320008151
Florida (9-6)000000000030

Jones backs Smoltz's dominant outing with 2 HRs as Braves blank Fish

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- With John Smoltz on the mound and Chipper Jones at the plate, their team looked like the Atlanta Braves of old.

The Braves began Thursday night's game off to their worst start since 1990, but Smoltz and Jones provided a lift to help beat the Florida Marlins 8-0.

Smoltz pitched five shutout innings and struck out 10, increasing his career total to 2,996. Jones went 4-for-4 with two homers and three RBI.

There were other heroes: Atlanta hit five homers, including three in a row off Ricky Nolasco. Four relievers combined to pitch four hitless innings and complete a three-hitter with 16 strikeouts.

But Smoltz and Jones remain the best thing about this year's dismal start for the injury-plagued Braves, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the third time in 10 road games.

"Every win is big for us right now," Jones said. "Let's build upon this and start something of a roll."

Smoltz has been nursing tightness in his right shoulder, but he lowered his ERA to 0.56 and improved to 3-0 in three starts, while the rest of the Braves staff is 3-9. He walked none, allowed only three hits and reached double figures in strikeouts for the 44th time.

"He can't pitch any better than that," manager Bobby Cox said.

"I feel like my slider is as good as it has ever been," Smoltz said. "My only frustration is that the point I'm at now, I know I'm not going eight or nine innings."

Jones raised his batting average to .443. He had an RBI double in the first and a homer in the third, and with two out in the fifth, Jones, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann hit consecutive home runs in a span of 12 pitches. Kelly Johnson added a two-run homer in the sixth.

Jones' multihomer game was the 37th of his career.

"I have never seen Chipper start a season the way he's starting," Smoltz said. "He's carrying us. He's hot, and you know everyone else around him is going to get hot. And when that happens, we're going to be a very, very difficult team to pitch to."

Cox called a team meeting before the game, and the Braves responded with a win to finish an 11-day trip 3-6.

"Bobby does a lot of things at the right time that a lot of people don't know about," Smoltz said. "This was an encouragement meeting. The manager doesn't speak often, and when he does, he seems to know what to say."

Nolasco (1-1) gave up nine hits -- all for extra bases -- and left after McCann's homer put Atlanta ahead 6-0. The last time the Braves hit three consecutive homers was on May 28, 2003, against Cincinnati.

"It's kind of tough to swallow," Nolasco said. "I fell behind some guys, and they made me pay."

Smoltz was sharp from the start, striking out the side on 12 pitches in the first inning. He had eight strikeouts after 3 1/3 innings, but because of his shoulder he departed after throwing only 81 pitches.

"We just don't want to take any chances," Cox said.

Florida had runners at second and third with none out in the second, but two strikeouts and a popup allowed Smoltz to escape. After Hanley Ramirez reached second with none out in the third, Smoltz retired the next three batters.

"You knew after the first inning, the way he was throwing, we were going to have to battle," said Luis Gonzalez, one of three Marlins to strike out three times. "He just had good stuff."

Notes

  • Braves RHP Tim Hudson said he felt fine Thursday, less than 24 hours after struggling with his velocity and lasting only three innings in a loss to Florida.
  • RHP Jeff Bennett will start Friday when the Braves open a homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Marlins 2B Dan Uggla, batting .179, was given the night off.
  • Braves RHP Jorge Campillo has a no-hitter going this season, with five hitless innings in two relief appearances.
  • Jones improved to 6-for-10 lifetime against Nolasco.
 
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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In five innings, John Smoltz strikes out 10 and needs four more K's to reach 3,000 for his career.  (AP)
In five innings, John Smoltz strikes out 10 and needs four more K's to reach 3,000 for his career. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

C. Jones
AB 4
R 3
H 4
HR 2
RBI 3
Atlanta

J. Smoltz
IP 5.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 2
K 10
 
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B4112101 .260
Yunel Escobar, SS5110001 .333
Chipper Jones, 3B4343100 .443
Mark Teixeira, 1B5111005 .203
Brian McCann, C5122010 .283
Jeff Francoeur, RF5020011 .290
Mark Kotsay, CF5020012 .236
    Buddy Carlyle, P0000000 .000
Matt Diaz, LF4010022 .267
John Smoltz, P2000012 .000
   a- Brayan Pena, PH1110000 .286
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
    Chris Resop, P0000000 .000
   b- Ruben Gotay, PH1000011 .333
    Manny Acosta, P0000000 .000
    Gregor Blanco, CF0000000 .167
Totals41815827  
a-doubled for Smoltz in the 6th
b-struck out for Resop in the 8th
Batting
2B - Yunel Escobar (3, Nolasco), Chipper Jones (3, Nolasco), Brian McCann (5, Nolasco), Mark Kotsay (3, Nolasco), Brayan Pena (1, Gardner)
3B - Mark Kotsay (2, Nolasco)
HR - Kelly Johnson (2, Gardner), Chipper Jones 2 (4, Nolasco, Nolasco), Mark Teixeira (3, Nolasco), Brian McCann (4, Nolasco)
RBI - Kelly Johnson 2 (6), Chipper Jones 3 (14), Mark Teixeira (7), Brian McCann 2 (11)
2-OUT RBI - Chipper Jones (2), Mark Teixeira (4), Brian McCann 2 (7)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - John Smoltz (2, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (W,3-0) 53002100 0.56
Will Ohman 1000020 1.69
Chris Resop 1000120 9.45
Manny Acosta 1000110 6.00
Buddy Carlyle 1000010 0.00
IBB - Amezaga by John Smoltz
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 81-54, Will Ohman 15-10, Chris Resop 22-13, Manny Acosta 16-8, Buddy Carlyle 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 4-1, Will Ohman 1-0, Chris Resop 1-0, Manny Acosta 1-1, Buddy Carlyle 1-1
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 20, Will Ohman 3, Chris Resop 4, Manny Acosta 4, Buddy Carlyle 3
Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez, SS4010030 .373
Robert Andino, 2B3000131 .267
Luis Gonzalez, RF-LF4000032 .200
Josh Willingham, LF4010012 .286
    Matt Lindstrom, P0000000 .000
Mike Jacobs, 1B3010010 .316
    Logan Kensing, P0000000 .000
    Cody Ross, RF1000010 .200
Jorge Cantu, 3B2000212 .263
Matt Treanor, C4000024 .219
Alfredo Amezaga, CF2000101 .294
Ricky Nolasco, P1000003 .250
    Lee Gardner, P1000000 .000
    Wes Helms, 1B1000011 .000
Totals30030416  
Batting
2B - Mike Jacobs (4, Smoltz)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Andino-H. Ramirez-Helms
Florida Marlins
Ricky Nolasco (L,1-1) 4.2966044 6.46
Lee Gardner 1.1422011 10.80
Logan Kensing 2200220 1.50
Matt Lindstrom 1000000 4.50
WP - Logan Kensing (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Nolasco 84-50, Lee Gardner 28-18, Logan Kensing 32-20, Matt Lindstrom 6-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Nolasco 4-6, Lee Gardner 3-0, Logan Kensing 3-0, Matt Lindstrom 2-1
Batters Faced - Ricky Nolasco 23, Lee Gardner 8, Logan Kensing 9, Matt Lindstrom 3
Game Information
Attendance - 11237
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - Jerry Crawford, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Brian O'Nora