<
>

Davies does job again for Braves

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- On a night the Atlanta Braves started
21-year-old pitcher Kyle Davies and two other rookies, the only
timely hit they needed to win came from a player more than old
enough to be their father.

Julio Franco's two-out double in the ninth scored the game's
only run and Davies shut down the Pirates into the eighth inning,
leading the Braves to a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday
night.

Dominated for eight innings by Mark Redman, the Braves advanced
only one runner to second -- and that on a strikeout -- until the
46-year-old Franco's double off reliever Mike Gonzalez (0-2) to
right scored Brian Jordan, who had reached on a force play. The RBI
was only the eighth for Franco, who was making an infrequent start.

"He's old, but he can hit," Gonzalez said of Franco, a major
leaguer all but a couple of years since 1982. "That's why he's
been in the big leagues all these years."

Atlanta won for only the second time in six games and dealt
Pittsburgh only its second loss in six games.

"But even if we're not playing that good, if the pitching's
good ... we can compete until we get it together," Franco said of
the Braves, who have stayed around first place in the NL East
despite being only five games over .500.

Davies and relievers John Foster and Chris Reitsma combined on
the six-hit shutout, which saw the Pirates strand eight runners --
most in scoring position. The right-handed Davies made a fourth
successive strong start since being called up, allowing six hits
over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. He also gave the Braves a lift on a
day they put left-hander Mike Hampton on the disabled list for the
second time in less than a month.

"I can't say enough about the kid, he's just got unbelievable
mound presence, and pitches his way out of jams," catcher Johnny
Estrada said. "He doesn't get shaken up when he's in jams, he
doesn't have a scared look in his eye ever."

Foster (1-0), who hasn't allowed a run in 16 appearances, worked
out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by getting Daryle Ward on a
soft grounder. Reitsma pitched the ninth for his third save in five
opportunities.

The Pirates had at least two runners on with one out or fewer
three times in the first six innings, yet couldn't score against
Davies, who has allowed runs in only two of the 23 1/3 innings he's
pitched in the majors.

"This was very frustrating," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon
said. "We had the guys up there we wanted, we just couldn't get it
done. We didn't have the at-bats we should have had."

With runners on second and third in the first, Rob Mackowiak
popped up and Ward grounded out. Redman grounded into an
inning-ending double play in the fifth after the Pirates had two on
and none out. In the sixth, Matt Lawton singled for his third
straight hit and Freddy Sanchez doubled down the right-field line,
but Jason Bay popped up and Ward hit into a double play after
Mackowiak was intentionally walked.

Ward went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and stranded seven runners.

Davies lowered his ERA to 0.77, striking out five and walking
four.

"He was outstanding," manager Bobby Cox said. "We just
couldn't get a run for him."

Redman allowed three singles, struck out three and walked one in
the eighth start in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer.
He didn't advance a runner past first until Andruw Jones struck out
to apparently end the Braves' at-bat, but advanced as Redman's wild
pitch eluded catcher David Ross and took second when Ross threw
wildly.

Some in the crowd of 33,649 booed when Redman was lifted for a
pinch-hitter in the eighth after throwing just 84 pitches, but
Redman said, "We were trying to get something going. We were doing
anything we could to win the game. It was getting toward the end,
and I don't have any control of that."

Game notes
Age has its privileges: When a foul ball ricocheted to him
at first, Franco held onto the ball for a moment, then flipped it
to second baseman Marcus Giles to throw into the dugout for him.
... Braves 3B Chipper Jones sat out with a sore heel, but flew out
as a pinch-hitter. ... The Braves are 20-9 against Pittsburgh since
2001. ... The Braves played their 11th consecutive errorless game.
... After the game, the Pirates optioned former starting 3B Ty
Wigginton to Triple-A Indianapolis to get him playing time, and
recalled C-OF Ryan Doumit, who is hitting .344 with 12 homers and
35 RBI in Triple-A.