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Braves avoid first series sweep of season

MIAMI (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves avoided their first series sweep
of the year -- and gave themselves a reason to think they can turn
their season around.

Chipper Jones, J.D. Drew and Nick Green drove in two runs
apiece, helping the Braves snap a three-game losing streak with a
9-4 victory over the Florida Marlins on Thursday night.

"It pretty much could have been lights out had we lost this
game," closer John Smoltz said.

Drew doubled twice and tripled as the Braves (33-38) roughed up
Dontrelle Willis and won for just the second time in eight games.

"It was a must-win game for us, and we responded," Jones said.

Willis was hit hard for the second consecutive start, continuing
a string of inconsistency since starting his career 9-1 with a 2.08
ERA.

Willis (6-5), last year's NL Rookie of the Year, allowed seven
hits and six runs in four innings. He gave up nine hits and seven
runs in his last outing against Texas.

"I don't know what it is," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
"It's happening too often."

Willis is 11-10 with a 4.30 ERA since going to last year's
All-Star game.

Mike Hampton (2-7) settled down after a shaky first inning and
won for the first time in five starts. He gave up seven hits and
four runs in six innings.

"Coming here and getting swept would have been tough," Hampton
said. "We were able to get one going into Baltimore. Hopefully,
this was a confidence builder."

Antonio Alfonseca, Chris Reitsma and Smoltz held the Marlins
scoreless in the final three innings.

After Jones' RBI double in the first inning, the Marlins scored
four runs in the bottom of the inning to give Willis a lead.

But the left-hander couldn't hold it.

Green tripled to start the third and scored on Jones' one-out
single.

The Braves tied the game on Green's two-run single in the fourth
and went ahead 6-4 on Drew's two-run double.

Willis was mostly to blame for the four-run inning because he
walked three batters.

"I was erratic in key situations," Willis said. "I wasn't
able to execute pitches, and it cost us. ... I'll go back to the
drawing board and make an adjustment."

Rafael Furcal's sixth homer, a solo shot to straightaway center
in the sixth, made it 7-4.

Eli Marrero scored in the seventh on a wild pitch and Andruw
Jones doubled and scored in the ninth.

Florida's first four batters scored against Hampton, who won for
the first time since May 23.

Juan Pierre singled and moved to second on an errant pickoff
attempt. Luis Castillo walked, Miguel Cabrera followed with an RBI
single and Mike Lowell made it 2-1 with an RBI double. Alex
Gonzalez's two-out, two-run double capped the inning.

The first-inning runs were fairly typical for Hampton. Of the 52
runs he has allowed this season, 15 of them -- or 29 percent -- have
come in the first.

He allowed just three singles over the next five innings.

"After that first inning, it was like I had nothing to lose,"
Hampton said. "The formula I was using wasn't working so I went to
something else."

Game notes
The Braves, 3-for-38 with runners in scoring position in
their last six losses, were 4-for-7 in that category in the first
five innings. ... Braves OF Charles Thomas got his first major
league hit, a pinch-hit, infield single in the seventh. ...
Lowell's first-inning double broke Derrek Lee's team record of 307
extra-base hits. ... Chipper Jones' two RBI gave him 965 for his
career and moved him into fourth place on the club's all-time list
behind Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy.