ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves rotation has gotten a big
boost from a most unexpected source.
Shane Reynolds, who began the season without a job, gave up just
two hits in 7 1/3 innings as the Braves beat the Philadelphia
Phillies 8-1 Sunday.
"It's been unbelievable to have a situation like this open up
for me,'' he said. "Wow, this feels good.''
Reynolds, who was cut by Houston at the end of spring training,
didn't give up a hit until the fifth and finally came out after
giving up an RBI double to Tyler Houston in the eighth.
Reynolds (1-0) walked off the field to a rousing ovation from
the Turner Field crowd, tipping his hat as he reached the dugout.
"What a great pickup for the organization,'' manager Bobby Cox
said. "He's picked us up -- literally. He's sneaky quick. He has a
great curveball. He has a splitter that he can use on both sides of
the plate. And he has tremendous control.''
Philadelphia didn't manage a hit against Reynolds until Ricky
Ledee blooped a single to right with two outs in the fifth. The
ball landed just out of reach of diving second baseman Marcus
Otherwise, Reynolds breezed through the Philadelphia lineup
until the eighth. After an error by first baseman Matt Franco,
Houston doubled to the wall in center to drive home an unearned
Reynolds hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 1/3 innings since
signing with the Braves on April 10.
"He had real good off-speed stuff,'' Philadelphia's Jim Thome
said. "He knows how to pitch.''
Atlanta blew open the game quickly, scoring four runs in the
first and three more in the second against Brandon Duckworth.
Duckworth (0-1), making his first start of the season after
coming off the disabled list, lasted only 1 1/3 innings.
Enter Reynolds, who signed with the Braves after working out at
a Houston high school. The 35-year-old right-hander missed the last
3˝ months of 2002 after undergoing back surgery.
He fully recovered from the operation, but was surprisingly cut
by the Astros in the final days of spring training. He spent the
first nine years of his career with Houston.
When Paul Byrd needed elbow surgery, the Braves signed Reynolds
in a desperate bid to upgrade their rotation. In just two starts,
he already has made a big contribution.
"You never know why things happen the way they do,'' Reynolds
said. "Why was I released by Houston? Why didn't I sign with
another team? How did I end up with the Braves?''
Reynolds never threw much harder than the mid-80s, but he wasn't
concerned about velocity.
"I was just trying to hit the spot, hit the spot,'' he said.
"Who cares if you can't throw 90 mph.''
Duckworth got in trouble right away. The first four hitters
reached base, with Andruw Jones singling in two runs.
Before the first was done, Johnny Estrada -- called up from the
minors the night before -- drove in a run with a groundout and Vinny
Castilla made it 4-0 with a rare triple.
The Braves had as many hits in the first as they did in the
previous game against Vicente Padilla, who pitched a four-hit
Atlanta knocked out Duckworth in the second. The pitcher doomed
himself by bobbling Rafael Furcal's slow roller in front of the
mound as the speedy shortstop tried to bunt his way on. Giles
followed with a double and Gary Sheffield was walked intentionally
to load the bases.
After getting two quick strikes on Jones, Duckworth walked the
cleanup hitter to force in another run. Joe Roa came out of the
bullpen, but immediately gave up a two-run double to Franco that
made it 7-0.
"I just couldn't make a quality pitch,'' said Duckworth, who
was on the DL because of tendinitis is his elbow. "I felt fine. I
just couldn't locate. I didn't get the job done. It was frustrating
after waiting so long.''
Castilla added an RBI single in the eighth.
Braves LF Chipper Jones didn't play. He sprained his left
shoulder attempting a diving catch Saturday, requiring a cortisone
shot. Jones hopes to return after Monday's off day. ... Sheffield
reached base twice but his 16-game hitting streak ended. ...
Duckworth's ERA after one start: 40.50. ... The Braves drew a crowd
of 22,978 on Easter Sunday. They haven't had a crowd of even 30,000
since 40,244 turned out on opening day. ... Reynolds improved to
9-1 in his career against Philadelphia.