ATLANTA (AP) -- Chipper Jones didn't mind the pain.
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The Atlanta slugger had three hits in his return to the lineup,
backing the strong pitching of Jason Marquis as the Braves beat the
Montreal Expos 5-2 on Thursday night.
Just two nights earlier, Jones couldn't even stand up. He
hobbled home on crutches after fouling a ball of his right calf,
leaving a nasty bruise that figured to keep him out of the lineup a
Instead, he made a surprise pinch-hitting appearance Wednesday,
then proclaimed himself ready to start again.
''I'm not trying to set an example,'' he said after singling
three times, the last hit driving in a run in the seventh. ''I just
hate sitting on the bench.''
The switch-hitting Jones said the injury actually aided his
swing from his left side by forcing him to shift most of his weight
to the back foot.
''You don't want to land too hard on that foot,'' said Jones,
who batted with a protective shield covered the injured calf. ''It
can help you stay back on the ball. I saw the ball well and had
some good swings.''
Marquis (4-3) gave up only four hits and a run in seven innings,
winning for the third time in four starts since coming off the
disabled list. He gave up 12 runs in his first two starts, then was
shelved for nearly a month with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Since returning from the DL, Marquis has given up one earned run
or less in three of his starts, lowering his overall ERA to 4.40.
He also scored the Braves' first run after beating out an infield
''When you're 100 percent, you're always a little better than
when you're not,'' he said. ''I needed to take some time off to let
the arm heal and get it back where I wanted it to be.''
Marquis was coming off a 6-4 loss to Cincinnati, which roughed
him up for eight hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings.
''I felt like I was aiming the ball instead of being loose and
letting my ability take over,'' he said. ''I knew tonight that I
just had to trust myself.''
also had RBI for Atlanta, which expects to bolster its offense
Friday night with the return of Gary Sheffield. He missed his
seventh straight start with a sore hamstring but should play in the
opener of a three-game series at Cincinnati.
The Braves' 10th victory in 14 games pushed them a half-game
ahead of the idle New York Mets for the NL East lead.
''We're playing a lot more consistent,'' Jones said. ''We're
playing a lot better defense. We're not relying so much on the long
ball. It's fun.''
The Expos failed to build on a 4-3 victory the previous night,
when Jose Vidro came through with a two-out, three-run double in
the ninth against John Smoltz.
''Instead of taking a step forward, we went backward,'' manager
Frank Robinson said.
Carl Pavano (3-6) lost for the fourth time in his last five
The Expos went ahead in the third. Fernando Tatis led off with a
single and Michael Barrett followed with a triple over the head of
Bragg, who made a twisting leap for the ball before crashing
headfirst into the right-field wall. He was not hurt, and the Expos
failed to get Barrett home from third.
The Braves tied it at 1 in the bottom half, with Marquis helping
himself offensively. He showed his athleticism by beating out a
slow roller, moved to third on Rafael Furcal's hit and scored on
Lockhart's grounder to shortstop.
Bragg drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the
The Expos squandered a chance to tie it up in the sixth. Brad
Wilkerson led off with a double, then was thrown out by Javy Lopez
trying to steal third with Vladimir Guerrero at the plate.
Guerrero followed with a double off the left-field wall, causing
the embarrassed Wilkerson to cover his head with a towel in the
dugout. Marquis walked the next two hitters to load the bases, but
ended the inning by striking out Lee Stevens.
''We don't seem to take full advantage of our opportunities
offensively,'' Robinson said. ''The third and sixth innings were
perfect examples. That comes back to haunt you.''
Orlando Cabrera homered in the Montreal ninth off Darren
Franco has three RBI in his last three games and managing
only one RBI in his first 37 games. ... Montreal OF Troy O'Leary
went hitless after managing at least two hits in each of his last
four starts. ... Marquis went 1-for-2, raising his average to .286
(4-of-14). ''Pitching comes first,'' he said. ''Hitting is always