LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Somebody finally got to Eric Gagne.
Naturally, it was the top team in the National League.
The Dodgers closer, who set a club record with 52 saves last
year, retired only one of the five batters he faced.
"Who would expect that off Gagne? It's one of those freak
things that happens,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "But our
hitters have been hot and they've been swinging the bats good for a
Vinny Castilla also homered for the NL East-leading Braves, who
have won 22 of 26 after a 4-8 start. The Dodgers are only one game
over .500 despite entering the game with the lowest ERA in the
Marcus Giles broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI single that scored
pinch-runner Mark DeRosa, who was sacrificed to second by winning
pitcher Jung Keun Bong. Castilla led off the ninth with a single
against Gagne (0-1).
Sheffield chased Gagne with a two-run double over the head of
left fielder Brian Jordan.
"He's a great pitcher and one of the best closers in the
game,'' Castilla said. "But tonight we were swinging the bats
Bong (4-0) got the win despite giving up an RBI single to
pinch-hitter Ron Coomer in the seventh that tied the game. Bong
threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and walking one.
"He's got three quality pitches -- fastball, changeup and
breaking ball,'' pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "You like to
feel that when you bring him in, it doesn't have to be against a
left-handed hitter up there. It can be either a lefty or a righty
because of his style of pitching.''
Atlanta starter Shane Reynolds left after 5 1/3 innings with a
4-2 lead, but the Braves' revamped bullpen failed to hold it.
Reynolds, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in six
starts since signing with Atlanta on April 10, was charged with
three runs and three hits.
Dodgers starter Hideo Nomo allowed four runs -- three earned --
and four hits in seven innings, striking out five and tying a
career high with seven walks. It was the fifth time the
right-hander has walked seven in a game.
"Nomo didn't have his best stuff and it wasn't his best
outing,'' catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "The split-finger was the one
pitch he had trouble with tonight.''
Sheffield and Jordan, traded for each other before last season,
both played hurt in the opener of the three-game series.
Sheffield was hit on the left forearm Sunday by a 95 mph pitch
from San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, and wasn't sure of his
availability until taking batting practice. Nomo walked Sheffield
three straight times after his RBI single in the first inning.
"Our trainers were pounding treatment on me for almost an hour,
and I didn't think it was going to come around,'' Sheffield said.
"I came into the clubhouse, and when I took off the bandage, the
pressure went down -- but it was going down into my wrist. So I
decided to go into the cage, and once I hit in there, I was fine.''
Jordan was hurt in a freak accident Sunday, when a ball hit by
Dave Roberts during batting practice came back and struck Jordan on
the outside of his right hand as he was leaning on the batting
cage. X-rays taken Monday were negative.
"I'm just happy nothing's broken. It's a big relief,'' Jordan
said. "I was nervous all night. I couldn't even sleep.''
Braves 1B Robert Fick, who went to nearby Cal
State-Northridge, returned to the clubhouse without his glove
because a fan ran off with it. "I was signing autographs,'' Fick
said sheepishly, "and some kid said, "Hey, did you give your
glove to that lady?'' ... Giles and Sheffield both stole second in
the first inning against Lo Duca, who has thrown out 11 of 34
basestealers. ... The Braves have been successful on 20 of their 24
stolen-base attempts. Last year they were at 66 percent
(76-for-115). ... Atlanta is 19-3 when Rafael Furcal scores a run.
He scored twice. ... Nomo has pitched at least seven innings in
eight of his nine starts. ... The Braves are 18-1 when they score
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