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Atlanta scores seven runs in seventh inning

4/5/2003

ATLANTA (AP) -- In one inning, the Atlanta Braves wiped out three
games' worth of frustration.

The Braves scored seven runs in the seventh, highlighted by
Andruw Jones' three-run homer, and went on to beat the Florida
Marlins 12-7 on Friday night.

It was Atlanta's first victory after an 0-3 start -- the team's
worst since 1988.

"We relaxed and did our thing," said Marcus Giles, who had
three of Atlanta's 16 hits. "We'll be OK. We got the jitters out.
Now we can play our game. That was obvious in the seventh inning."

The Braves were swept by Montreal in the first series of the
year, getting outscored 17-2. Atlanta, which has won 11 straight
division titles, had not started so poorly since going 0-10 in
1988.

All that changed in the seventh, when the Braves pounded on
Marlins relievers Blaine Neal and especially Vladimir Nunez (0-1).

Trailing 5-2, Atlanta started the inning with five straight
hits. Gary Sheffield had a run-scoring single, Chipper Jones hit an
RBI double off the center-field wall and Andruw Jones followed with
a three-run homer into the center-field stands off Nunez.

It was the first homer of the season by the Braves, who were the
last major league team to hit one out of the park.

"We didn't get frustrated. Nobody got frustrated," Andruw
Jones said. "We know what kind of team we've got. We know what we
can do."

Before the inning was done, Vinny Castilla also homered off
Nunez and Tim Spooneybarger had to come in to get the final two
outs. The Braves wound up sending 11 hitters to the plate in their
biggest inning since June 22 of last season.

For good measure, Atlanta added three more runs in the eighth.

"They couldn't catch 'em tonight," said manager Bobby Cox,
obviously relieved. "We hit them in the gaps, down the lines, out
of the park."

The Braves snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak in the second on
a fluke hit by starting pitcher Jason Marquis, taking their first
lead of the season in the process.

The Marlins surged in front on a solo homer by Juan Encarnacion
and two-run shots by Alex Gonzalez and Mike Lowell.

Gonzalez added a solo homer in the eighth, giving the shortstop
the third two-homer game of his career.

It wasn't enough. John Smoltz, coming off an NL-record 55 saves,
finally got a chance to pitch this season. He got the final out in
the eighth and followed with a scoreless ninth for his first save
of 2003.

Florida lost despite 13 hits.

"It's part of the game," Gonzalez said. "You have to keep
your head up."

Roberto Hernandez (1-0) earned his first Atlanta win despite
giving up Lowell's homer in the seventh.

Marquis had a solid outing, giving up seven hits and two runs in
5 1-3 innings. The right-hander needs to pitch well to keep his
spot in the rotation when Mike Hampton and Paul Byrd return from
the disabled list.

Marquis struggled mightily after the All-Star break last season,
and he had an 8.57 ERA in spring training. But injuries to Hampton
and Byrd gave Marquis a chance to stay in the rotation -- and maybe
with the team.

"The past week, I've felt very confident," Marquis said. "I'm
right where I want to be."

Marquis helped himself at the plate, too. He drove in Atlanta's
first run with a grounder that ricocheted off the first-base bag
and wound up in right field.

While Marquis didn't get the win, he was as relieved as anyone
that the Braves finally got their first.

"It was a good feeling coming into the clubhouse," he said.
"That's something we're used to. It's a familiar feeling. I think
we're going to keep it going."

Florida start Michael Tejera went five innings, surrendering
four hits and two runs. But the Marlins bullpen got scorched.

"We just couldn't get them stopped," manager Jeff Torborg
said. "We swung the bats well."

Game notes
Atlanta's bullpen was the best in baseball a year ago, but
four key members left during the offseason. The turnover has been
readily apparent in the opening days of the season, with the
relievers giving up 11 runs in 10 2-3 innings for a 9.28 ERA. ...
Tejera had an 11.57 ERA in four previous career games against
Atlanta. ... Gonzalez's two-homer game was his first since July 13,
2001, against the New York Yankees.

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