Atlanta finishes off three-game sweep in Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Javy Lopez and the Atlanta Braves got

their offense in high gear in Texas.


height=90 align=right alt="Vinny Castilla">



height=90 align=right alt="Javy Lopez">


Lopez drove in four runs, one more than he had in his last 19

games, and the Braves extended their season-best winning streak to

six games with a 9-3 win Sunday night that completed a three-game


''When Javy comes through, watch our offense take off from

there,'' said Gary Sheffield, whose only hit was a two-run homer.

''If the bottom of the lineup comes through, it makes it easier on

the top.''

Vinny Castilla, the No. 6 batter two spots ahead of Lopez, had

two RBI and scored two more runs to help the Braves become only

the second NL team to sweep a series in Texas. Atlanta scored 29

runs in the series.

''We broke out pretty good, and it's good to see Javy get on

track,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''But tomorrow is a new

day. We better keep surging.''

Lopez had three hits, the last a 401-foot homer to left in the

eighth. Including a sacrifice fly in Saturday's 6-3 Atlanta win,

Lopez had five RBI in two games after just 14 his first 46 games.

The Braves never trailed after Castilla singled in a run in the

fourth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lopez for a 3-1 lead.

''Everybody knows we have a great lineup. Once we get going, we

can score a lot of runs,'' Castilla said. ''This is the way

everybody expected us to play.''

Jason Marquis (5-3) went seven innings, allowing just two runs

while scattering eight hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Dave Burba (3-4), 0-4 in five starts since his last win May 11

against Detroit, gave up five runs and seven hits over six innings.

Even though the Rangers didn't have to face Greg Maddux or Tom

Glavine, they were swept at home by a NL team for the first time

since the Los Angeles Dodgers had a three-game sweep from June

30-July 2, 1998.

Texas has lost 12 of 16 games and remains in last in the AL

West, 13½ games behind Seattle.

''I continue to believe we are going to turn it around,''

Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. ''We just haven't been able to

put it together.''

Atlanta, leading the NL East by 5½ games over Florida, Montreal

and the New York Mets, extended its lead to 5-2 in the sixth when

Andruw Jones and Castilla had consecutive singles before Lopez's

two-run double into the right-center field gap.

''Except for three walks and one bad pitch to Javy, I felt I

pitched well,'' Burba said. ''If I get through the sixth, we could

have still won the game.''

Jones, who extended his hitting streak to nine games with his

sixth-inning hit, walked in the second and scored on Castilla's

double for the first Atlanta run.

Sheffield's homer came on the second pitch thrown by Todd Van

Poppel, the second Texas reliever in the seventh. Darren Bragg drew

a one-out walk off Juan Alvarez.

Before Lopez homered in the eighth, Julio Franco tripled and

scored on Aaron Myette's wild pitch.

Texas tied it at 1-all in the third when rookie Ryan Ludwick led

off with a double and scored on Michael Young's single. The Rangers

would have scored more if not for second baseman Jessie Garcia's

nice play.

With two runners on, Ivan Rodriguez hit a lining one-hopper to

Garcia, who went down to snag the ball and, while turning on his

knee, threw to shortstop Rafael Furcal to start a double play.

Rafael Palmeiro led off the Rangers fourth with his 12th homer

of the season, but first in 12 games. It was his 28th interleague

homer, matching Ken Griffey Jr. for second-most behind Carlos

Delgado's 29.

Ludwig added an RBI double in the ninth.

Game notes
LHP John Rocker, called up from the minors by Texas earlier

Sunday, didn't pitch against his old team. He never even warmed up

in the bullpen. ... Bragg, the Atlanta DH for the finale, had a

streak of six straight hits snapped by a first-inning groundout.

... Burba is 10-5 in interleague play. Only five pitchers,

including Maddux (13), have won more. ... Ludwick made his fourth

straight start in center since making his major league debut as a

defensive replacement in right Wednesday. ... Johnny Bench, who

Ivan Rodriguez has matched with 10 straight Gold Gloves and nine

straight All-Star game starts, will be in Texas on Monday when

Cincinnati begins a three-game series.