<
>

Braves start 0-2 for first time in six years

4/2/2003

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves aren't getting too worked up
about an 0-2 start, even though it hasn't happened in six years.

Zach Day and three relievers combined on a three-hitter, and
Jose Vidro hit a two-run homer to lead the Montreal Expos over the
Braves 3-0 Wednesday night.

The vagabond Expos, who won't play in Montreal until April 22,
have outscored Atlanta 13-2 in the first two games at Turner Field.

The Braves had not lost their first two games since 1997, when
they dropped a pair of one-run decisions at Houston. They quickly
rebounded, going on to win 101 games and the sixth of their 11
straight division titles.

"It's way too early to get frustrated,'' said Braves starter
Horacio Ramirez, who lost his major league debut despite allowing
just two runs in seven innings. "There's a lot of games left in
the season. We've only played two games. If we get a little streak
going, we'll be fine.''

Vidro hit a two-run shot in the first -- all the support Day
needed. Making just his third big league start, the 24-year-old
right-hander dominated a Braves team that looked downright feeble
offensively, getting only one runner past second base.

Day (1-0) allowed just three hits in seven innings, and only one
of those was hit hard. He walked two and struck out three.

"I'll take it,'' he said. "My sinker was working, the guys
were working behind me. I was cruising. It was one of those nights
I had confidence.''

Day earned a job in the starting rotation during spring training
after working mostly out of the bullpen in his rookie season. He
won four games -- all in relief -- but this was his first win as a
starter.

Rocky Biddle struck out two in the ninth for his second career
save.

"It's nice to get off to this kind of start,'' Day said.

The Expos, following the pattern of their 10-2 victory on
opening day, jumped ahead of the Braves just six pitches into the
game.

Montreal scored four runs in the first against Greg Maddux on
Monday.

This time, Endy Chavez led off with a single to left and Vidro
hit a 1-2 pitch into the left-field stands. Ramirez hung a breaking
ball after throwing over three times to first, trying to keep
Chavez close to the bag.

"I was very nervous going out there,'' Ramirez admitted.
"About the third or fourth inning, I settled down. I was trying
way too hard in the beginning. I had to tell myself it was a
regular game, a normal game.''

Ramirez settled down after his shaky start. The 23-year-old
left-hander allowed only four more hits, walked one and struck out
five. Of his 91 pitches, 63 were strikes.

"He was overthrowing a little bit at first, getting the ball
up,'' manager Bobby Cox said. "He was up on two in a row to Vidro.
You're not going to get away with that.''

The Braves threatened in the bottom half of the first, loading
the bases on a pair of walks and a questionable call at third base
that was ruled an error on Fernando Tatis.

Tatis fielded a grounder coming across the bag, but umpire Ed
Montague said the third baseman was bobbling the ball.

It didn't matter. Day retired Javy Lopez on a grounder to end
the inning.

"He had outstanding stuff,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson said.
"Everything he had was working.''

The Expos added an insurance run in the ninth on Chavez's
two-out single off Darren Holmes.

Game notes
Despite a gorgeous night -- clear skies and 65 degrees for
the first pitch -- the game drew only 19,116. That wasn't far off
the lowest crowd in Turner Field history, a turnout of 18,931 for a
game against Pittsburgh last September. ... The Expos committed two
errors, the Braves one. ... Lopez went 0-for-4, remaining one hit
shy of 1,000 for his career. ... Expos SS Orlando Cabrera made an
outstanding play in the eighth, holding on to a blistering liner
from Gary Sheffield that nearly knocked over the infielder.
"That's the hardest ball you'll see all year,'' Cox said. ...
Ramirez will pitch again Sunday on three days' rest against
Florida. ... Biddle's save was his first in the NL. He saved a game
for the Chicago White Sox last season.