DETROIT (AP) -- John Smoltz spent most of his life dreaming about
pitching at Tiger Stadium. It didn't work out -- his first chance to
pitch at home came a few years into the Comerica Park era -- but
that didn't stop him from enjoying it.
Smoltz, born in suburban Detroit, pitched a perfect 10th inning
to complete a 4-3 Atlanta win in the Braves' first visit to the
"My pulse was racing when I came into the game -- I had to take
my time and calm down before I started pitching," said Smoltz, who
was drafted by the Tigers in 1986 and traded to the Braves the next
year. "It would have been nice if we could have played at Tiger
Stadium, but this is still a great night."
Smoltz bought 75 tickets for friends and family, but had many
more fans among the crowd of 19,062.
"I don't know how many people were out there," said the
17-year veteran. "Obviously, people have known about these games
for a long time, so a lot of them had already gotten tickets on
With the score tied at 3, Mark De Rosa led off the 10th with a
long double to center, and Rafael Furcal sacrificed. Danny
Patterson (0-3) threw the ball into right field, allowing the run
to score and Furcal to reach second. Nick Green also tried to
sacrifice, but Patterson hit him.
Jamie Walker retired the next three batters to keep it a one-run
game, but the Tigers went out meekly against Smoltz in the bottom
of the inning.
"I'm sure Smoltz had some extra energy pitching at home, but
he's one of the elite closers no matter where he is," Tigers
manager Alan Trammell said. "He might not be the best -- there's
always Eric Gagne -- but I'm sure Bobby Cox wouldn't trade him for
Jason Johnson gave up three runs and seven hits in eight innings
as Detroit lost for the 11th time in 15 games.
"I'm not happy with my outing, because we lost the game,"
Johnson said. "I might have pitched well, but it is getting
frustrating, because we are going through a rough patch right now --
we need to find a way to turn some of these close games around."
Atlanta took a 3-0 lead in the second. Dewayne Wise hit an RBI
double that center fielder Alex Sanchez misplayed for an error that
allowed a second run to score, and Furcal hit a two-out,
run-scoring single. Wise left the game after the inning with a
strained left hamstring.
Detroit had runners in scoring position in three of the first
five innings, but couldn't score. Carlos Guillen hit into two
double plays and the Tigers wasted a one-out double in the second
and a leadoff double in the fifth.
By then Johnson had settled down. He allowed only two singles
after the second inning.
"Johnson was lights-out today -- he was really impressive," Cox
said. "It was a good thing that we got a couple timely hits in the
second inning and that we had the double-play ball working for
"That was a huge hit," Johnson said. "I had been trying to
keep us in the game, and Brandon came through for us. We just
couldn't finish it off."
The previous two interleague series between the teams both
were in Atlanta. ... Smoltz, an avid golfer, planned to play a
round Wednesday at nearby Oakland Hills, host of this fall's Ryder
Cup. He also plans to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
Tigers manager Alan Trammell and bench coach Kirk Gibson also
intended to go.