Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 5/12)

Game 1: Friday, May 12
Game 2: Saturday, May 13
Game 3: Sunday, May 14

Nationals 2

(12-24, 9-14 away)

Braves 6

(16-19, 7-5 home)

    7:35 PM ET, May 12, 2006

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

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    ATL 20010030 - 6 10 1

    W: J. Smoltz (3-2)

    L: R. Ortiz (0-4)

    Smoltz tosses four-hitter for Braves as errors dog Nats

    ATLANTA (AP) -- When John Smoltz is throwing like this, he figures the other team will be lucky to score even one run.

    Smoltz pitched a four-hitter and the Atlanta Braves won for the fourth time in five games, beating the Washington Nationals 6-2 Friday night.

    "I feel like I'm under control every time I go out there," he said. "Sometimes I wonder how they score any runs."

    Smoltz (3-2) made his only big mistake in the fifth, surrendering a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. The right-hander pitched his second complete game of the season and struck out seven, moving past Chuck Finley for 21st place on the career list with 2,611.

    "He didn't miss my glove one time," catcher Brian McCann said. "He was lights out."

    The Braves broke open a 3-2 game with three runs in the seventh. Andruw Jones had a run-scoring single that knocked out Washington starter Ramon Ortiz, and Jeff Francoeur drove in two more with a bases-loaded single off Jason Bergmann.

    Francoeur extended his hitting streak to 10 games and had three RBI overall.

    "I'm starting to feel a lot better," Francoeur said. "They did a good job with me tonight. They really kept me off balance. I finally made an adjustment that last at-bat. I tried to hit it up the middle. He still made a good pitch, but I just was able to get enough on it to put it in left field."

    Smoltz didn't have too many stressful moments. He put away the Nationals with 103 pitches -- needing only 17 to get through the last two innings.

    "After giving up that homer, I knew I had to hold them right there," he said. "Then we scored three runs in the seventh. That's a pitcher's dream."

    The Nationals made four errors -- two by reluctant left fielder Alfonso Soriano. He bounced a routine throw off second baseman Jose Vidro's knee in the third, allowing a Braves' runner to take an extra base, then stumbled over Francoeur's hit in the seventh.

    Soriano made up for his second miscue by throwing out Francoeur trying to take second.

    The Braves, who were seven games off the lead in the NL East coming into the night, began a seven-game homestand that gives them a chance to make up ground on the first-place New York Mets.

    Atlanta has the struggling Nationals for three games, followed by a four-game series against the last-place Florida Marlins.

    "One thing you can't do is get hung up on winning five in a row," Smoltz said. "Any team in this league can bite you if you try to think too far ahead. But hopefully this homestand will renew some confidence."

    The Braves jumped on Ortiz (0-4) for two runs in the first, stringing together four hits and a walk. Brian McCann had a run-scoring single and Francoeur picked up his first RBI of the game when he beat out Washington's attempt to turn a double play with the bases loaded.

    Adam LaRoche started the fourth with a liner off Ortiz's leg. The pitcher scrambled off the mound to retrieve the ball -- then threw it past first for his third error of the season, allowing LaRoche to make it all the way to third.

    Ryan Langerhans followed with a single that put the Braves up 3-0.

    Smoltz faced the minimum through the first four innings. Marlon Byrd reached on an error in the first, but he was thrown out trying to steal. Soriano, moved into the leadoff spot as part of a shake-up at the top of the order, had the first hit off Smoltz in the fourth, only to get erased on a double play.

    Nick Johnson started the fifth with a double off the top of the wall in center. Two batters later, Zimmerman sent a 1-2 fastball into the left-field seats for his sixth homer of the season.

    Otherwise, Smoltz was dominant. "He has so many pitches he can get you out with," Zimmerman said.

    Ortiz gave up eight hits in 6 1-3 innings and was charged with all six Atlanta runs, but Nationals manager Frank Robinson had no complaints.

    "I thought he did pretty well," Robinson said. "Three-to-two going into the seventh inning -- what's wrong with that?"

    Ortiz, a 16-game winner for Anaheim in 2003, has yet to win at all in his first season with the Nationals. His ERA climbed to 6.30 in seven starts.

    "It's my fate," he said. "When we play good, no win. When we play bad, no win. I'm the same guy every game."

    Game notes

    Former Braves president Stan Kasten watched the game from the visiting owner's box. He is part of the group that is buying the Nationals from Major League Baseball. ... Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones stretched his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single. ... Smoltz pitched the 52nd complete game of his career. ... Smoltz's first complete game this season was a four-hit shutout against San Diego on April 15. ... Nationals C Brian Schneider (hamstring) remains day to day. ... Braves OF Kelly Johnson will begin an injury rehab assignment at Class A Rome on Saturday. He hurt his right elbow during spring training and has yet to play this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press