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.