Andruw Jones takes Irabu deep in 10th

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Andruw Jones is really in a groove.

Hideki Irabu is stuck in a rut.


height=90 align=right alt="Andruw Jones">

color="#666666">A. Jones

Jones hit two homers, including a three-run shot off Irabu in

the 10th inning that sent the Atlanta Braves to a 6-3 victory over

the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

Jones went 3-for-5 for the second straight game and has 12 hits,

including four homers, in his last 20 at-bats. He's on an

eight-game hitting streak and has raised his average to .300.

''Right now, I have a real good idea of what the pitcher is

trying to do,'' said Jones, who is 16-for-32 during his streak.

''I'm looking for pitches I like to hit.''

Irabu (2-6) has been throwing lots of hittable pitches lately.

He's given up seven homers in his last four outings and is 1-4 in

his last five appearances. Texas has lost five of six and 11 of 15.

Rangers manager Jerry Narron didn't say Irabu has lost the

closer's job, but he made it clear the Japanese

starter-turned-stopper is no longer his primary option. Narron said

any decision Sunday would be based on matchups, adding that Irabu

still could get the call. He also said Irabu's troublesome back was

not a problem.

''Irabu gave us a great run,'' Narron said, referring to his

streak of 11 saves in his first 12 tries after being thrust into

the role. ''I think he can get back to that again.''

Irabu retired the first batter in the 10th, then walked Julio

Franco on five pitches. Gary Sheffield followed with a single,

making him 4-for-5 one night after going 0-for-5 in a 13-7 victory.

Irabu was ahead 0-2 when he threw a forkball to Jones that

stayed up.

''It was right over the plate in my power area and I hit it

out,'' Jones said. ''I can hit home runs, but I also want to be a

center fielder and a complete player.''

Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks he could be one of the game's

most complete players.

''I compare him in our evaluations to a Sammy Sosa-type

hitter,'' Cox said. ''He has the qualities to hit 40, 50 home runs

some day. Sammy made those adjustments and Andruw is in the process

of doing the same thing -- and he's the best center fielder in


Mike Remlinger (3-0) pitched two innings for the win, giving up

an unearned run and two hits. John Smoltz got three straight outs

for his 18th save in 21 chances. Atlanta has won five in a row and

11 of 13.

The Braves never trailed. They led 1-0 and 2-0, then went up 3-2

in the eighth when Sheffield hit an RBI single through the open

side of an overshifted infield. Texas tied it in the bottom half

thanks partly to a defensive goof by Darren Bragg, who went


Bragg tracked down a one-out hit by Herbert Perry in the

right-center gap and tried flipping it behind his back to Jones for

the relay. Jones wasn't expecting it and the ball rolled away,

letting Perry reach third. It was scored a double and an error.

Jason Romano pinch-ran for Perry and scored when Gabe Kapler hit

a flare over first baseman Julio Franco that fell fair by inches.

Kapler later left with a bruised right knee and had X-rays as a


Atlanta starter Kevin Millwood allowed two runs on seven hits

over six innings, striking out five and walking one.

Texas starter Rob Bell allowed three runs on seven hits in seven

innings. He tied his career high with nine strikeouts, including

Chipper Jones three times, and walked only the last batter he


Jones' first homer gave Millwood a 1-0 lead, then Javy Lopez's

sacrifice fly the next inning scored Bragg, who tripled.

Texas tied it in the sixth, but missed a great chance to break

the game open.

The Rangers opened the inning with four straight singles,

including RBI hits by Rafael Palmeiro and Perry, then loaded the

bases when Millwood made a fielding error on a sacrifice bunt. He

made up for it by getting Ryan Ludwick to ground into a double play

and striking out Michael Young.

Game notes
The Braves made three errors, one more than they had the

previous 16 games. They committed 43 errors in their first 45

games. ... The game drew 48,776 fans, the second-largest crowd this

season and seventh-largest in the stadium's history. ... Texas

recalled RHP Aaron Myette from Triple-A Oklahoma, replacing RHP

Joaquin Benoit, who gave up two runs on five hits and five walks

over four innings Friday night. That was the longest relief outing

by a Rangers pitcher this season.