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Reynolds pitches five shutout innings for Braves

4/16/2003

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.

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