SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After a dramatic victory over the San Diego
Padres, the Atlanta Braves reacted with uncharacteristic emotion.
Andruw Jones put Atlanta ahead with hit a two-run homer off
Trevor Hoffman in the ninth inning and Marcus Giles threw out the
potential tying run at the plate for the final out as the Braves
staged a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Padres on
Wednesday night.Closer John Smoltz pumped his fist and the rest of the Braves,
the NL East leaders, rushed the field after the final out."That was not your typical game," Smoltz said. "This was a
big game. To end the game like that is an emotional rush. I don't
care if you've been in the league 25 years or this is your second.
If you can't get emotional after that, you're not human."Atlanta maintained its eight-game cushion over Florida, which
beat another of the NL's top closers when the Marlins rallied for
four runs in the ninth off Eric Gagne and beat Los Angeles 6-4.The Braves received a huge lift from Jones, who hit a 2-1 cut
fastball from Hoffman into dead center field for a 6-5 lead. Julio
Franco led off the inning with a single and was replaced by
pinch-runner Charles Thomas before Jones got the better of Hoffman
(2-3), who blew his fourth save in 35 chances."I was just looking for a pitch to drive and I didn't miss,"
Jones said. "When a guy like that makes a mistake, you have to
take advantage of it. You never know when he'll make another."But it took a great defensive play by both J.D. Drew and Giles
to seal the win.Smoltz, who got his 31st save in 33 chances, quickly got the
first two outs. But a walk to Mark Loretta brought up Brian Giles,
who hit a shot down the right-field line. The ball went into the
corner, where the odd dimensions usually produce difficult bounces.But Drew was able to barehand the ball cleanly off the wall,
then throw a perfect strike to Marcus Giles in short-right field.
Giles threw home to Eddie Perez, who had plenty of time to tag out
Loretta."You have to be aggressive in that situation," Drew said.
"You have to go in there hard. If it goes down there and gets by
me, they tie the score."Brian Giles was credited with a double on the play, extending to
his streak of reaching base safely to 11 plate appearances."We just looked at it on film and he made a great play," Brian
Giles said of Drew. "It had some hair on it, bouncing off the wall
there."Giles finished 3-for-3 with a double, triple, home run and two
walks. After going 3-for-30 on a just-completed road trip, Giles
was 8-for-10 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, four
RBI, three runs scored and four walks in the three-game series."He was the last person I wanted to see up there," Marcus
Giles said about his older brother. "When he gets hot, he's one of
the toughest outs."Chris Reitsma (5-3) pitched one inning for the win.The Padres remained 6½ games behind the Dodgers in the NL West
and fell 1½ games behind San Francisco in the wild-card race."This time of the season, these games are huge," Hoffman said.
"For the guys to battle back and for me to come in and lose it,
it's frustrating."Loretta and Brian Giles hit back-to-back home runs on
consecutive pitches for San Diego, which tied it at 3 in the fifth.
The Padres took a 5-3 lead the next inning on Khalil Greene's
sacrifice fly and Ramon Hernandez's RBI single.Chipper Jones, who homered in five straight games to tie the
Braves' franchise record, was pulled from the starting lineup due
to a migraine. Jones pinch hit in the eighth and pulled the Braves
within a run on a sacrifice fly off Scott Linebrink.Loretta hit a two-out solo homer off Paul Byrd, and Giles
connected on the next pitch to tie it.The Padres scored twice in the sixth after Ryan Klesko led off
with a walk and Sean Burroughs hit a grounder to Marcus Giles at
second. Giles attempted a backhanded throw to shortstop Rafael
Furcal to force Klesko at second, but the throw sailed over
Furcal's head into left field, allowing the runners to take an
extra base.Greene followed with a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead. Kevin
Gryboski then came in and gave up an RBI single to Hernandez.The Braves scored three runs in the fourth after Franco led off
with a double and went to third on Andruw Jones' infield single.
Eli Marrero drove in one run with a single. Johnny Estrada then hit
a one-hop grounder back to pitcher David Wells, it looked as though
it would be a double play. But when Wells fumbled the ball, the
runners advanced as he threw out Estrada.Mark DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly to score Jones, and Byrd made it
3-1 with a single.Giles gave the Padres a 1-0 lead in the first with a one-out
triple that scored Loretta.
The Braves won the series 2-1, and are 13-1-2 in their last
16 series. ... Freddy Guzman, who made his major league debut
Monday night, stole his first base. Guzman had 65 steals in 101
games in the minors this season.