ATLANTA (AP) -- For one game, at least, the Atlanta Braves'
new-look lineup was just as impressive as last year's
Adam LaRoche got his first two hits in the first game of his big
league career during an 11-run inning, helping Atlanta beat the New
York Mets 18-10 Wednesday night.
Johnny Estrada and pinch-hitter Julio Franco also had two hits
in the fourth -- the biggest inning for the Braves since they scored
a team-record 13 runs against Houston on Sept. 20, 1972. LaRoche
also got his first RBI.
"That was an amazing inning," Franco said. "Every ball fell
into place, everything they threw we hit. It was just one of those
It's the fourth time the Mets have allowed that many runs in an
inning, and the first since April 1, 1997, against San Diego.
Chipper Jones added a two-run homer as Atlanta bounced back from
a 7-2 loss a night earlier in the season opener for both teams.
Every starter for the Braves had a hit except Rafael Furcal, who
The 18 runs were the most for Atlanta since it scored 20 against
the Florida Marlins on Oct. 5, 2001.
"Here I go, saying we couldn't beat teams 18-10 with this team,
and right out of the box we do that," Jones said.
In 2003, the Braves led the NL in every major hitting category
on their way to their 12th straight division title: batting average
(.284), homers (a franchise-record 235) and runs (907, another club
mark). Four players reached 100 RBI, and six had 20 homers.
But Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez signed free-agent deals with
other teams, and Atlanta also lost Vinny Castilla and Robert Fick.
LaRoche, Estrada and Mark DeRosa are regulars for the first time,
and those three finished 8-for-13 with two RBI and nine runs
"Hopefully, it gave all the fans a little hope," said LaRoche,
who got a pair of game balls from his teammates. "I think they
were all doubting us, thinking the streak might end."
Mike Piazza hit two homers for the Mets and has three in the
first two games. He finished 5-for-5 with four RBI -- his second
career five-hit game -- and moved from catcher to first base in the
seventh, the second time since 1993 he's played that position.
"When it's out of reach, that's when you do it," New York
manager Art Howe said. "I wanted to let him get acclimated under
Piazza now has 350 homers as a catcher, one behind the career
record set by Carlton Fisk.
"I'm trying not to change anything right now," Piazza said.
"I just want to continue what I've been doing. I just want to keep
Mike Cameron also homered and Kaz Matsui was 1-for-4 with two
walks for New York. In two games in the United States, Matsui, a
seven-time All-Star in Japan, is 4-for-7 with a homer and four
Kevin Gryboski (1-0) pitched a perfect fifth for the win.
The Mets took a 6-0 lead through three innings against Atlanta
starter Mike Hampton. The Braves rallied with three runs in the
third on a run-scoring single by Marcus Giles and the two-run shot
by Jones, then took the lead for good an inning later.
The first five batters reached against Steve Trachsel (0-1),
including Franco's pinch-hit single that drove in two runs. Grant
Roberts relieved Trachsel and gave up five runs on three hits while
getting only two outs.
Finally, Dan Wheeler replaced Roberts and was tagged for two
hits and a run before he struck out Furcal to end the inning.
"It felt like that inning would never end, and I'm sure it felt
that way to them," Jones said. "We found a lot of holes."
Piazza hit a two-run homer in the first and Cameron followed
with a solo shot to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. They added two in the
second on RBI singles by Cliff Floyd and Piazza, then made it 6-0
with an unearned run in the third.
"We got down 6-0 before we even really started," Atlanta
manager Bobby Cox said. "Hampton just didn't have his location."
Karim Garcia hit a two-run homer in the ninth for New York.
Piazza's previous five-hit game was April 14, 2000, against
Pittsburgh. ... Cox said LHP Armando Almanza and OF-C Eli Marrero
would start rehab assignments with Double-A Greenville later this
week. Cox expected Marrero to rejoin the team in New York next week
for a three-game series against the Mets. ... Jones' double in the
seventh was the 306th of his career, tying Dale Murphy for the
Atlanta record. Hank Aaron holds the franchise mark of 600, but 391
came when the team was in Milwaukee.
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