Lopez homers for second straight game

ATLANTA (AP) -- Javy Lopez sure seems to have his swing back.

Lopez hit a three-run homer, leading Mike Hampton and the

Atlanta Braves over the San Francisco Giants 7-3 Sunday.

Lopez and Marcus Giles had three hits apiece for the Braves, who

waited out a rain delay of 1 hour, 52 minutes and took two of three

from the NL's top team.

"It's not just the Giants. We want to win every series we

play,'' Lopez said. "But it's great to do it against a team like

the Giants, who have the best record in the league.''

The Atlanta catcher also hit a two-run shot Saturday night in a

4-2 win. He has lifted his batting average to .263, with six home

runs and 14 RBI.

A .281 career hitter with 171 home runs in nine previous

seasons, Lopez hit only .233 last season in 109 games.

"I think I'm getting my confidence back at the plate,'' he

said. "It's been kind of frustrating seeing the team win and the

same guys doing it without me contributing. It's about time for

guys like me to start picking them up.''

Rafael Furcal tied it at 3 with an RBI double in the fifth

inning, then scored the go-ahead run on consecutive wild pitches by

Jason Schmidt.

Lopez connected off Felix Rodriguez in the eighth to make it


"I felt good. I was 100 percent. No excuses,'' Rodriguez said.

"It was a fastball, sinking in to Lopez. He was waiting for that


Atlanta won for the sixth time in seven games and improved to

21-4 since a 4-8 start.

"It's not easy to win a series in Atlanta,'' Giants manager

Felipe Alou said. "You're not going to come in here and blow the

Braves away. They know how to win regular-season games.''

The Giants, who beat the Braves in the first round of the

playoffs last season, have lost two in a row following a six-game

winning streak. Neifi Perez had four hits for San Francisco.

John Smoltz worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

The Braves have won the last 69 games in which he has pitched, a

major league record.

Hampton (2-1) allowed six hits, three runs -- two earned -- and

walked three in five innings. He struck out four. Trey Hodges

pitched two scoreless innings and Ray King one.

Schmidt (3-1) lost for the first time since Sept. 16, at Los


With the Braves trailing 3-2, Lopez opened the fifth with a

double off Schmidt and was sacrificed to second by Hampton.

Furcal followed with his RBI double to right. After Giles

walked, Schmidt uncorked two straight wild pitches with Gary

Sheffield at bat, scoring Furcal with Giles going to third.

Sheffield then hit a shallow fly to right, and Giles held at

third. Chipper Jones was walked intentionally and, with a 1-2 count

on Andruw Jones, the game was halted by showers.

When play finally resumed, Jim Brower came on and struck out

Andruw Jones.

Andruw Jones and Robert Fick singled to start the eighth before

Lopez homered to left-center with one out.

Schmidt gave up five hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings. He

walked two and struck out four.

The Giants took a 3-2 lead in a two-run second on run-scoring

singles by Yorvit Torrealba and Perez. San Francisco scored an

unearned run in the first inning when Perez doubled and scored on

an error by second baseman Giles on a grounder by Andres Galarraga.

The Braves scored twice in the first on a leadoff single by

Furcal, an RBI triple by Giles and a sacrifice fly by Sheffield.

Game notes

Sheffield was hit on his left forearm by a pitch from

Schmidt in the third inning and writhed in pain on the ground for

20 seconds before getting up and trotting to first. Sheffield

remained in the game, but after the long rain delay did not return

as a precaution, the club said. "It's swollen and sore,'' said

trainer Jeff Porter, who listed Sheffield as day-to-day. ... The

Giants placed 2B Ray Durham on the 15-day disabled list with a

sprained right ankle which he injured in Saturday night's 6-3 loss

to the Braves. INF Cody Ransom was recalled from Triple-A Fresno.

... Barry Bonds was given the day off. ... Giants OF Jason Ellison,

recalled from the minors Friday, got his first major league hit in

the sixth, a single to center off Hodges.