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Colon's four-hitter steals Braves' chance

9/8/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Hold the champagne. The Atlanta Braves will have
to wait at least one more day to clinch their 11th straight
division title.

Delaying the celebration, Bartolo Colon pitched four-hit ball
for seven innings and the Montreal Expos beat the Braves 7-0 on Sunday.

Atlanta was assured of at least a tie for first in the NL East
when second-place Philadelphia lost 11-3 to the New York Mets.

But Colon and the Expos made sure the Braves didn't get a chance
to party until Montreal was out of town.

"Since you brought it up, yes, I'm pleased,'' Expos manager
Frank Robinson said. "I didn't know they could clinch today.''

Now, there's a chance the Braves could wrap up the division on
an off day. The Phillies, who are 20½ games behind, would hand the
Braves another championship by losing Monday to the New York Mets.

"We want to win it when everybody's here after a victory,''
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "That's the way it's scripted.
That's the way it's supposed to play out.''

Tom Glavine, whose losing streak reached a season-high four
games, will be watching "Monday Night Football'' while the
Phillies are playing the Mets. He'd just as soon have another
division title by the time he gets to Turner Field on Tuesday.

"I'd like to clinch as soon as we can,'' Glavine said. "Crazy
things can happen in sports. Until you clinch, you can't take it
for granted. I'm fairly confident we're going to do it. The sooner
the better.''

Colon (8-3) beat the Braves for the third time since being
acquired by the Expos in a June 27 trade with Cleveland. He was
never in serious trouble against the short-handed Braves, who were
missing Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones.

Colon threw more sliders and two-seam fastballs than his
previous outings against Atlanta.

"Since it was the third time I had pitched against these guys,
I had to mix my pitches better,'' he said.

Glavine (16-10) lasted six innings, giving up eight hits and
four runs. The Braves have been shut out in his last two starts,
going 22 innings since their last run in a game he pitched.

"I'm happy with everything I'm doing other than the results,''
Glavine said. "Sometimes the results are deceiving. There's plenty
of times I've pitched poorly and won. Right now, I'm pitching
pretty well and losing.''

Even with their loss, the Braves are poised to secure a
postseason berth earlier than any other team in Atlanta history.

In 1995, the Braves wrapped up the NL East on Sept. 13 with 15
games left in the strike-reduced season. Atlanta has 21 games
remaining this season.

The Braves are the first team in the history of the four major
U.S. pro leagues to win even 10 division titles in a row. The 11th
has been delayed, but appears inevitable.

The Expos, likely playing at Turner Field for the last time as a
team from Montreal, put a quick end to Atlanta's streak of 29
straight scoreless innings, which included shutouts in the last
three games.

The second hitter of the day, Jose Vidro, doubled to left.
Vladimir Guerrero followed with an RBI single to right, snapping
Montreal's streak of 26 consecutive innings without a run.

The Expos added two more runs in the second. Brian Schneider had
a run-scoring single and Colon made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

On the mound, Colon was cruising. The Braves didn't get their
first hit until the fourth, and Gary Sheffield was promptly picked
off at first.

Guerrero drove in two runs for the Expos, adding an RBI single
in the ninth off Albie Lopez. Orlando Cabrera had a two-run single
off Lopez as Montreal poured it on in the final inning.

Dan Smith and Joey Eischen finished the five-hitter, Montreal's
second shutout of the season.

Andruw Jones was given the day off after being hit on the helmet
with a pitch Saturday night. He had puffiness around his left eye
and cheek.

Chipper Jones was a late scratch from the lineup, missing his
second game in a row. He continued to be bothered by a stiff neck
that was caused by a diving catch Friday night.

Without those two sluggers -- who have combined for 51 homers and
166 RBI -- the Braves threw together a makeshift lineup that hardly
had the look of a champion.

Julio Franco, 41, was the cleanup hitter. Darren Bragg filled in
for Andruw Jones in center field. Mark DeRosa, making only his
second start of the season in the outfield, was Chipper Jones'
replacement in left.

Game notes
The 1975 Cincinnati Reds have the earliest clinching since
divisional play began in '69. They wrapped up the NL West on Sept.
7. The earliest AL clinching in that same span: the 1995 Cleveland
Indians, who secured first in the Central Division on Sept. 8. ...
The Braves were outhit 14-5.