Final in 10

Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 4/15)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 15
Atlanta2Final
in 10
Montreal1
Game 2: Wednesday, April 16
Atlanta3Final
Montreal2
Game 3: Thursday, April 17
Atlanta14Final
in 10
Montreal8

Braves 2

(6-8, 3-4 away)

Expos 1

(9-5, 4-1 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 15, 2003

    Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

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    MON 0000001000 1 9 0

    W: J. Bong (1-0)

    L: D. Smith (1-1)

    S: J. Smoltz (4)

    Reynolds pitches five shutout innings for Braves

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Shane Reynolds, Gary Sheffield and Marcus Giles showed the Montreal Expos that other teams can party in Puerto Rico, too.

    Reynolds pitched five shutout innings in his first game since last June, Sheffield homered leading off the ninth and Giles hit another starting the 10th to give the Atlanta Braves a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.

    "It's a great atmosphere!" Giles said. "These fans obviously love baseball here. They were chanting like at a soccer game in France."

    Los Expos, lifted again by Latin American players, were on the verge of improving to 5-0 at their Caribbean home away from home. Tony Armas Jr. pitched seven shutout innings and Orlando Cabrera homered in the seventh off Kevin Gryboski.

    But after four fiestas against the Mets in a sweep, Montreal couldn't hold the lead. Atlanta rallied against Dan Smith (1-1), trying to close it out because Rocky Biddle was unavailable after pitching three days in a row against the Mets.

    The two opposite-field home runs -- drives of about 340 feet that wouldn't have been out in most major league parks -- just cleared the right-field wall, both about one foot above the glove of a leaping Vladimir Guerrero.

    "It's tough. I let everybody down," Smith said.

    Montreal, which had won five straight overall, dropped to 4-1 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where it plays 22 home games this season.

    For Reynolds, the journey was especially lengthy.

    He was released by Houston on March 27 and didn't have a team until Atlanta signed him last Thursday. He joined Atlanta in Florida last weekend and in his first game in a Braves' uniform, immediately pitched like one of their perennial Cy Young Award winners.

    "Fly to Florida, two bullpens and -- boom -- go," Reynolds said.

    In his first start since last June 8, he allowed five hits, struck out three and walked none, throwing 47 of 72 pitches for strikes.

    "Terrific start. Wow!" Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "That's a real good-hitting ballclub, too."

    Reynolds' 2002 season was cut short by surgery June 13 to repair a pinched nerve in his back. After the Astros cut him, he tried to keep sharp by pitching simulated games at his old high-school field in Texas.

    "I don't want to be boastful. I certainly felt somebody would pick me up sooner or later," he said.

    Reynolds gave the Braves, whose ERA was an NL-high 5.97 coming in, just their second scoreless effort by a starter this season. He felt he could have pitched longer, but didn't quibble with Cox.

    "They know certainly what they're doing here. You can't question pitching here," Reynolds said.

    Atlanta gave Reynolds an extra $100,000 on top of the $1 million he was guaranteed under his deal with the Astros. His agent had earlier discussed a deal with the New York Mets, who wanted to start him at Triple-A.

    Against the Expos, he looked ready.

    "Just what the doctor ordered," Cox said.

    The only downside for Atlanta was an injury to Chipper Jones, who sprained his left groin hustling for an infield hit in the ninth inning. The team said he was day to day.

    Jung Keun Bong (1-0) pitched the ninth for his first major league win, and John Smoltz finished for his fourth save. He has converted 20 consecutive chances, and Atlanta has won in the last 55 games he has pitched.

    "We have to come back tomorrow and start another streak," Montreal manager Frank Robinson said.

    It was the second blown save this year for the Expos, the first in the ninth inning.

    "It's going to happen, sooner or later," Robinson said. "I wish it was later. It happens."

    Cabrera had earned most of the cheers earlier in the night. The Colombian shortstop made a sparkling play to start a 6-3-5 double play on Giles' fifth-inning grounder. He then got the crowd going when he lifted a pitch just over the left-field fence. Fans in the crowd of 13,399 chanted "Ol-e! Ol-e! Ol-e!"

    Armas, a Venezuelan, allowed three hits, struck out two and walked two, extending his scoreless streak to 16 innings.

    Sheffield and Giles then turned the game.

    "Orlando Cabrera's home run is not going out on a regular field," Giles said. "Sheffield's home run is not going out and my home run is not going out. That's the field. It's kind of hard to say that's not a home run."

    How would the 5-foot-8 Giles do if he played here all the time. He smiled.

    "I'd hit a couple more than in at Atlanta," he said.

    Game notes
    Atlanta RHP Russ Ortiz pitched seven scoreless innings against Florida on April 7. ... Cabrera's homer was his third this season, as was Sheffield's. Giles' homer was his first. ... Atlanta turned three DPs.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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