The Braves swept the three-game series and won for the ninth
time in 10 games to remain tied for first in the NL East with
Philadelphia and Montreal.
"Everybody in the lineup is swinging the bat good," Jones
said. "Everybody is doing the right things for us to win."
Not so for the Cardinals, the defending NL Central champions.
They lost their fifth in a row to drop two games below .500.
Isringhausen, who had 32 saves a year ago, is on the disabled
list while recovering from shoulder surgery. In his absence, Steve
Kline (0-2) and Cal Eldred failed to protect a 3-2 lead in the
Rafael Furcal got things started with a leadoff single, tying a
career high with his fourth hit of the game. Marcus Giles
sacrificed him to second before Kline walked Gary Sheffield and
Chipper Jones to load the bases.
Eldred, seeking the first save of his career, came on to face
The Braves outfielder lined the first pitch to the gap in
left-center, stopping after he rounded first as the tying and
winning runs scored.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa bristled when asked why he
brought in Eldred, who came in with a 7.04 ERA. Opposing hitters
were batting .313 against him.
"Evidently, he was the guy I thought was the right guy for the
situation," La Russa said sarcastically.
Kline, who leads the Cardinals with three saves, said Furcal had
the biggest hit in the ninth.
"He beats me every time I pitch to him," Kline said. "He sets
the tone, and he did again tonight."
Kline pitched around Sheffield with first base open, hoping to
take advantage of the slumping Chipper Jones. But he walked, too.
"It backfired on me," Kline said. "I didn't want Sheffield to
Williams was only the third pitcher since 1990 to get through
his first three starts without giving up a run, a span of 19 2-3
"It's been a fantastic season for me," Williams said. "I just
hope we get out of this funk."
The Braves had a chance to tie it in the eighth, but Julio
Franco was thrown out at the plate on a throw from center fielder
Atlanta's Mike Hampton took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of
a scoreless game, but a walk to Williams sparked a two-run outburst
by the Cardinals.
The game started 36 minutes late because of rain, which stopped
long enough to pull off the tarp, then returned for the rest of the
Mindful of the inclement weather, both managers played each
inning as if it might be the last.
Giles had two of his three sacrifice bunts in the first five
innings, and Darren Bragg came in
as a pinch-runner in the fourth. Vina put down a sacrifice bunt in
the sixth, allowing Williams to score easily on Cairo's hit.
The Braves had six hits through the first five innings, but
couldn't push across a run. Williams finally faltered in the sixth,
with Atlanta stringing together four more hits to tie it at 2.
Franco doubled with one out and moved to third on Vinny
Castilla's single to left. Johnny Estrada, filling in for the
ailing Javy Lopez, singled to right to bring home the first run of
the season against Williams.
With two outs, Williams worked the count to 0-2 on Furcal, who
then lined an RBI single up the middle to tie the score.
Hampton endured two miserable seasons in Colorado before coming
to the Braves in a trade. He showed signs of regaining the form
that made him a 22-game winner in 1999.
Hampton went six innings, allowing just two hits but struggling
a bit with his control. He walked four, one intentionally.
"I didn't get the win but the team did," Hampton said. "We
won a game that I started. That's a big step for me."
San Francisco's Ryan Jensen (2002) and Philadelphia's Tommy
Greene (1991) are the only other pitchers since 1990 to start the
season with three straight scoreless starts. ... The announced
attendance was 24,184, but there appeared to be no more than 5,000
in the park during the latter innings. ... Lopez played for the
first time since straining his left hamstring Saturday. He struck
out as a pinch-hitter.
Rockies play the Padres in series rubber match
San Diego Padres (84-68, second in the NL West) vs. Colorado Rockies (65-87, fifth in the NL West)
White Sox bring 5-game losing streak into matchup against the Tigers
Detroit Tigers (58-92, fifth in the AL Central) vs. Chicago White Sox (76-76, second in the AL Central)
Cubs face the Pirates leading series 2-1
Chicago Cubs (66-86, third in the NL Central) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-96, fifth in the NL Central)
Orioles meet the Astros with 2-1 series lead
Houston Astros (100-53, first in the AL West) vs. Baltimore Orioles (79-72, fourth in the AL East)
Athletics and Mets play, winner takes 3-game series
New York Mets (96-57, first in the NL East) vs. Oakland Athletics (56-96, fifth in the AL West)
Rays face the Blue Jays leading series 2-1
Toronto Blue Jays (85-67, second in the AL East) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (84-68, third in the AL East)