After lasting only one inning in his last start, Sheets made it
to the eighth Saturday night for the Milwaukee Brewers, who got
homers from Bill Hall and Prince Fielder in an 8-5 victory over the
Sheets improved to 5-1 with a 3.02 ERA in his last six starts
against the Braves, piling up 60 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings.
"It wasn't great, but it was good," he said. "I'm taking it
start by start."
Sheets (3-4) has been slowed all season by injuries. He left his
previous appearance after the first when his right pectoral muscle
tightened up, and the Brewers sent an extra pitcher to warm up
before the game just in case he had more problems.
Not to worry. Sheets retired the first nine hitters before Pete
Orr led off the fourth with a double. By then, the Brewers already
had a 5-0 lead.
"He doesn't look like he came off a pectoral muscle (injury) or
whatever," Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur said. "He looks like he's
fine. I still say he's got the best curveball in the league, by
far. We just weren't able to jump on it at all until a little later
in the game."
Sheets tired in the eighth, giving up three hits on three
pitches to start things off, and the Braves pushed across three
runs to close to 7-5. But Francisco Cordero struck out Francoeur
with the bases loaded and Tony Graffanino provided some insurance
with an RBI double in the ninth.
"It wasn't much of a setback in his last start. He just felt a
slight little strain," manager Ned Yost said. "This is the way
Benny is capable of pitching. That last one was just a bump in the
road. I'm not surprised he came back strong."
Cordero gave up a hit and a walk in the ninth, but he struck out
Orr and Marcus Giles for his sixth save with the Brewers and 12th
Kevin Barry (0-1) made his first major league start for Atlanta,
which is struggling to get by with three members of its rotation on
the disabled list. The rookie right-hander didn't last long, yanked
with one out in the fourth after surrendering seven hits, five runs
and three walks.
"I just made two bad pitches and I paid for it," Barry said in
a generous self-assessment.
The Brewers jumped ahead right away. Graffanino walked with one
out in the first, Fielder singled to center and Kevin Mench brought
them both home with a double down the left-field line.
Barry ran into more trouble in the second, but the defense
bailed him out. Graffanino's drive into the gap was cut off Scott
Thorman, and relay man Edgar Renteria threw out Damian Miller at
The Brewers didn't let up. Hall hit his 26th homer in the third,
a two-run shot, to make it 4-0. Brady Clark finished off Barry the
next inning with a run-scoring triple, and Fielder started the
fifth with his 22nd homer off Oscar Villareal to make it 6-1.
Orr, filling in at third for Chipper Jones (who's on the
disabled list) and Willy Aybar (who's headed there), had three hits
-- a homer short of the cycle -- and was in the middle of things
every time the Braves scored.
After getting the first hit off Sheets, Orr wound up scoring on
Renteria's groundout. In the sixth, the leadoff hitter tripled into
the right-field corner to drive home another run. And his infield
hit in the eighth -- he beat out a slow roller with a headfirst
slide -- helped the Braves push across three runs.
Matt Diaz's pinch-hit single knocked in the first, and Orr's hit
loaded the bases with no outs. Marcus Giles had a sacrifice fly and
Cordero walked two straight, including Brian McCann with the bases
loaded, to give the Braves a chance.
But Francoeur, who came through with the game-winning hit in the
ninth on Friday, struck out on three pitches, flailing away at the
last two as they swept far outside the strike zone.
"If you could do it every time you'd be ... like Babe Ruth was
in the '20s," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
Atlanta continued to struggle at Turner Field, dropping to 24-31
this season in a stadium where they've played so well over the
years. The Braves actually have a better record (29-31) on the
Jones wrapped up his injury rehab stint at Double-A
Mississippi by going 1-for-2 with a run scored. He is scheduled to
come off the DL on Sunday after recovering from a strained oblique
in his left side. ... The Braves will make room for Jones by
putting Aybar on the DL. He's got a broken bone in his left hand.
... Mench has 10 RBI in 12 games since coming over from Texas in a
trade. ... Barry was the 11th starter used by the Braves this
season. ... Orr's three hits tied a career high.