The Braves Report: Reynolds struggles continue

<U><B>Expos 5, Braves 4</B></U> <BR> Shane Reynolds gave up 5 runs on 11 hits in 7 innings and Michael Barret hit a two-run homer as the Braves fell to the Montreal on Thursday night.

Shane Reynolds pitched the Braves right out of the game, but the offense woke up to get back in it. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

It was a lackluster performance by the Braves starter tonight. Shane Reynolds was completely ineffective in 7.1 innings of work, allowing 5 runs on 11 hits, with 2 K's and a walk. He got touched up for 3 runs in the second, 2 coming off the bat of Expos catcher Michael Barrett, who came into the game hitting .163. The Expos added two more off of Reynolds in the fourth from a two-run triple off the bat of Endy Chavez, who posted a 3-for-4 night.

The Expos held the 5-0 lead until the bottom of the 7th, when Andruw Jones hit a solo homer off of Montreal starter Claudio Vargas. Vargas was on the hook for two more runs in the 8th. Rafael Furcal hit a 1-out single, which was followed by a double off the bat of Marcus Giles. Rocky Biddle replaced Vargas, and gave up a two run single to Gary Sheffield to pull the Braves within two.

After a Chipper Jones walk, Biddle retired both Andruw Jones and Robert Fick to end the threat in the 8th.

The Braves made it interesting in the 9th, as Javy Lopez walked to lead off the inning, and then advanced to second on a Biddle wild pitch. Vinny Castilla and Julio Franco had their chances with Lopez on second, but both grounded out to short. Rafael Furcal came through in the clutch again tonight though, driving in Lopez with a single to right, narrowing the lead to 5-4.

A clearly tired Biddle issued a four pitch walk to Marcus Giles, and was replaced by Julio Manon to face Gary Sheffield. Sheffield hacked away at the first pitch he saw from the new pitcher, flying out to left to end the ballgame.

It was a valiant effort by the Braves offense to dig themselves out of a 5-0 hole, but in the end, they came up just one run short.

The top of the lineup was back to their hitting ways, as Furcal, Giles, and Sheffield combined to go 7-for-14 on the night. The 4 thru 6 hitters couldn't drive them in though, as they went 2-for-11 with only one RBI.

In all likelihood, Shane Reynolds pitched well enough in Bobby Cox's eyes to stay in the rotation. This despite the fact that Reynolds hasn't pitched effectively at all this entire season. His record is 5-4 after tonight's loss, and his ERA currently sits at 6.04 after 14 starts, but look for him to take the hill again when it is his turn in the rotation.

Russ Ortiz (10-4) takes on Tomo Ohka (7-7) tomorrow night at 7:05 ET as the Braves look to even up the series with Montreal, who are currently undefeated (4-0) at Turner Field this season.

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