Chipper Jones homers twice in win over Cards

ATLANTA (AP) -- When it comes to power, Chipper Jones is having

an off year. Try telling that to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Chipper Jones has just four RBI in the first eight games.
Chipper Jones has just four RBI in the first eight games.

Jones hit a pair of two-run homers Saturday to back the strong

pitching of Jason Marquis, carrying the Atlanta Braves to a 6-1

victory over the Cardinals in a matchup of NL division leaders.

The Braves won their fifth in a row to strengthen their hold on

the best record in baseball. St. Louis lost its fourth straight.

''We're playing about as good as we can play,'' Jones said. ''We

all know the more wins we can get here, the more confidence we'll

take into October.''

Jones has certainly played with plenty of confidence during the

Braves' homestand, going 13-of-23 with five homers and 13 RBI in

the eight games at Turner Field.

He hit a three-run homer in the opening game of the series

against the Cardinals, helping the Braves to an 11-5 victory, and

followed with his 14th and 15th of the season against Matt Morris


''Chipper is the key to their whole lineup,'' Morris said. ''I

threw him two meatballs. You can't make those mistakes.''

Jones, who averaged 38 homers the last four season, has

struggled much of this year to hit the ball out of the park.

''It's a little too late to say I'm going to approach my power

numbers of the past,'' he said. ''But I'd sure like to ride this

way as long as I can.''

Marquis (8-5), the Braves' No. 5 starter, was pitching for the

first time in two weeks. He was skipped over in his last two starts

because of off days, but hardly seemed bothered by the layoff.

''If you tell yourself it's going to be tough, it is,'' he said.

''I felt good out there. I didn't want to use that as an excuse.''

The right-hander limited St. Louis to five hits and a run,

escaping a couple of jams with Jim Edmonds at the plate. In the

first, the Cardinals' cleanup hitter grounded into an inning-ending

double play with two on. Two innings later, Edmonds struck out

swinging with runners at second and third to end another threat.

''I didn't want to give in to him,'' Marquis said. ''If he

swung, I wanted him to be hitting my pitch.''

Both of Jones' homers came with two outs, including one that was

set up by a disputed call at first base in the opening inning.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria made a high throw to first baseman Tino

Martinez after fielding Matt Franco's grounder. According to

television replays, Martinez appeared to come down on the bag just

before Franco's foot arrived, but umpire Jeff Nelson signaled safe.

Two batters later, Jones hit a first-pitch fastball from Morris

into the right-field stands to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.

Jones struck again in the fifth. This time, Gary Sheffield

singled with two outs and Jones hit another first-pitch fastball

even farther -- a 439-foot shot over the center-field wall that made

it 5-1.

''His m.o. is getting ahead,'' Jones said. ''He doesn't throw a

lot of pitches. He's usually around the plate. We had a good game

plan today. If we got a fastball over the plate early in the count,

we wanted to put it in play.''

Morris was lifted after the sixth. He gave up six hits and three

earned runs, including Henry Blanco's sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Morris dropped to 0-4 in his career against the Braves, the only NL

opponent he hasn't beaten.

''Their whole thing is pitching,'' he said. ''They make pitches

when they count, like (Marquis) did all game. That's the difference

right there.''

Martinez scored St. Louis' lone run after his first triple of

the season. He sent a liner to the gap in right-center, where

Sheffield failed to make a tumbling catch. Renteria followed with a

sacrifice fly.

Game notes
The Cardinals have lost four straight for the first time

since June 20-25. On Sunday, they'll try to avoid their first

three-game sweep of the season. ... Jones' second homer was the

10th-longest in Turner Field history. ... Braves CF Andruw Jones

was scratched from the lineup just before the game because of a

sore right shoulder. He's been bothered by the injury for more than

a month since going over the wall at New York's Shea Stadium

attempting to make a catch. Jones did get in for the final two

innings, keeping alive his streak of playing in every game this

season. ... Renteria made another error in the second, but Morris

pitched around the mistake. ... A woman was hit on the top of the

head by a foul ball in the third. She didn't appear seriously

injured, joking with medical personnel as she left her seat to be

checked. She did take an ice bag to hold against her head.