Castilla hit one of three Atlanta homers against Johnson,
finishing with four RBI as the Braves extended the Big Unit's
misery with a 10-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday
"He's not as sharp as he usually is," Giles said. "He's just
got to get his work in. There's no doubt he'll get it back and be a
force to be reckoned with."
Castilla, who bats just ahead of the pitcher in the Braves'
potent lineup, became the fifth Atlanta player to reach 20 homers
"This is a great lineup," he said. "I've got no complaints
about hitting eighth. I'm just glad to go out there every day."
The Braves have 21 homers in their last nine games, pushing
their NL-leading total to 185 for the season. Arizona dropped three
games behind Philadelphia in the wild-card race.
Castilla hit a three-run homer in the second to put the Braves
ahead, and he drove in his fourth run of the night with an
Johnson has won the last four NL Cy Young awards, but he won't
be extending his streak to five. The Braves pounded him for nine
hits and seven runs in five innings.
"It snowballed," he said. "I don't know exactly what's going
on right now. You have to point to location, I guess. Everything
I'm throwing, they're hitting."
Actually, Johnson has always fared poorly against Atlanta --
whether healthy or injured. His regular-season ERA vs. the Braves
climbed to 5.80, more than two runs higher than his career numbers
against any other NL team.
"I'd like to see any pitcher pitch a quality game against that
lineup," he said. "(Rafael) Furcal and Giles get on base and make
things happen. Then they have power throughout the lineup.
Evidently, a lot of other pitchers have had the same trouble I've
had against them."
Atlanta spent the night reaching several power milestones at the
Big Unit's expense. In addition to Castilla getting to 20 homers,
Jones joined teammates Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield in the
30-homer club. Sheffield also extended his hitting streak to a
career-high 19 games.
It's the first time since 1998 that Atlanta has had three
players with 30 homers.
Shane Reynolds (10-6) was the beneficiary in another night of
Home Run Derby. He went 5 2-3 innings, giving up seven hits, four
walks and three runs -- good enough to win with the kind of numbers
the Braves' offense is putting up.
Atlanta has averaged 6.7 runs in Reynolds' 22 starts, allowing
him to reach double-figure wins with a 5.44 ERA.
"I pride myself on going a little longer in the game and giving
the bullpen a little rest," Reynolds said. "But I'm glad I was
able to battle back after that first inning."
Reynolds fell behind 2-0 before the Braves came to bat. Luis
Gonzalez and Shea Hillenbrand hit back-to-back, run-scoring doubles
into the right-field corner.
The Braves quickly erased the deficit. Sheffield had an RBI
single in the first to eclipse an 18-game streak he had for San
Diego in 1992 on the way to winning the NL batting title.
Lopez led off the second by doubling off the wall, moving to
third on Julio Franco's single. That brought up Castilla, who lined
a slider into the left-field seats, the 359-foot drive barely
clearing the wall to put the Braves up 4-2.
Giles and Jones hit solo homers in the fifth to extend Atlanta's
lead to 7-2. Johnson was done, replaced by a pinch-hitter in the
sixth after giving up three homers in a game for the first time
since May 26, 2002, against Los Angeles.
Junior Spivey, batting .547 in his career against the Braves,
went 2-for-2 with a sixth-inning homer. He also walked twice.
The Braves put the game out of reach with three runs in the
eighth. Furcal had a two-out, two-run single.
Despite the lopsided score, the hits were all even at 11
apiece. ... The Braves had four players with 30 homers in 1998:
Andres Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Lopez. ... Giles
has 15 homers and the Braves have a good chance to match the 1965
team, which had six 20-homer players in the franchise's final
season in Milwaukee. ... The Diamondbacks struck out only three
times, including a pair of whiffs by leadoff hitter Matt Kata. ...
Reynolds, who was cut by Houston in spring training, became the
fourth Braves' starter to reach 10 wins. Russ Ortiz (17-5), Greg
Maddux (11-9) and Mike Hampton (10-5) already reached that
milestone. ... Arizona C Rod Barajas took a foul tip off the right
hand. X-rays were negative and he listed himself as day to day.