The Braves Report: Braves "Walk" Away with Victory

<U><B>Braves 3, Expos 2</B></U> <BR> The Braves came back in the ninth inning behind a hit-by pitch and a walk with the bases loaded to defeat Rocky Biddle and the Montreal Expos 3,2 on Saturday night. <BR> <BR> <B><U>Down on the farm</B></U> <BR> Steve Doetsch continues to absolutely smoke the ball down in Orlando; Wainright shelled by Smokies; Pratt with 6 solid innings for Richmond.

It was a game that didn't see much action early on, and was delayed for over an hour due to the rain, but the 9th inning had all the excitement you could hope for. Well, that is if you are a Braves fan of course.

The Braves went into the 9th inning trailing the Expos 2-1, and were set to face their closer, Rocky Biddle. Chipper Jones got things started of right with a single to center. Andruw Jones followed by getting ahead of Biddle 3-0, but had the green light on, and fouled out to the right side. The turning point of the inning came when the next batter, Robert Fick, hit a hard grounder towards short that was misplayed by Expos SS Orlando Cabrera. The error allowed Jones to take third, with Fick standing safe at first.

It was all downhill from there for Biddle. He loaded the bases by issuing a walk to the next batter he faced, Vinny Castilla, and then forced in the tying run by hitting Javy Lopez with a 1-0 pitch that sailed in on him. Marcus Giles struck out swinging, and then with two outs and the bases still full, Biddle got ahead of Rafael Furcal, 0-2. Furcal didn't buckle under the pressure of having the winning run 90 feet away, and worked the count full before the seventh pitch of the at bat went high and outside, walking in the winning run.

Thank you Rocky Biddle. We couldn't have done it without you.

The ending of the game overshadowed two solid pitching performances by Greg Maddux and Javier Vazquez. Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth inning, when Maddux gave up back-to-back solo homers to Orlando Cabrera and Brad Wilkerson. Those would be the only two runs Maddux would give up in seven innings of work, two of those innings surprisingly coming after the rain delay. He allowed 6 hits, with no walks and no strikeouts, throwing only 63 pitches, 49 for strikes.

Vazquez also gave up his only run in the 4th, as Chipper Jones hit a bases loaded sac fly to score Furcal from third. He got out of the inning without further damage by getting Robert Fick to ground into a double play. Vazquez only allowed 2 hits in 5 innings, fanning 5. Unlike Maddux, he did not return to the game after the delay.

Ray King and Jung Bong were both solid in relief for the Braves. King pitched a hitless 8th, striking out 2, to lower his ERA to 2.14 on the season. Bong allowed a hit and a walk in the 9th, but kept the Expos off the scoreboard, as he picked up the win and improved his record to 6-1.

As a team, the Braves had only 5 hits in the game, but matched that with 5 walks, which played a big part in each run scored by the Braves. Mark DeRosa went 2-for-4 in place of Marcus Giles, who was given the day off, but did pinch hit in the 9th.

The Braves try to make it 3 in a row against the Expos today at Turner Field, as Mike Hampton (3-5) takes on Tim Drew (0-0) at 1:05 ET. Drew will be making his first start of the year for the Expos, and sports a career ERA of 6.79, spending time in the majors with both Cleveland and Montreal. Hampton looks to rebound from his last outing against Florida, where he allowed 9 runs in 4 innings in a 20-1 Braves loss.

Down on the farm

Durham Bulls (TB) 3, Richmond Braves 0 -- A great start by Andy Pratt went to waste, as Richmond drops one at home to the Bulls, 3-0. Pratt went 6 innings, allowing no runs on 8 hits, striking out 8 in the process. The R-Braves bats were silent though, with only 4 hits against Durham pitching. Travis Phelps was on the hook for the loss, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in 2 IP, to fall to 5-3.

Tennessee Smokies (STL) 7, Greenville Braves 4 -- Adam Wainwright got blasted by the Smokies, giving up 6 earned runs on 8 hits in 3.2 innings, as Greenville loses to Tennessee, 7-4. Wainwright also issued 4 walks and had 3 strikeouts in the loss, dropping his record to 5-7 on the season. 1B James Jurries and 3B Ramon Castro each had 2 hits, and RF Cory Aldridge hit his 9th homer of the season on a 1-for-4 day.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) 2, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 4 -- 3B Andy Marte was 1-for-3 with 2 RBI and hit his 9th homer of the year, as the Pelicans defeat the Blue Rocks, 4-2. C Brayan Pena also homered, his 2nd of the year, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Dan Meyer improved to 2-0 with the Pelicans, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 K's in 5 innings. Alec Zumwalt picked up his 4th save, striking out the side in the 9th.

Rome Braves 3, Charleston-SC RiverDogs (TB) 2 -- Ryan Ewin picked up his second win for Rome, lowering his ERA to 0.69 in the process, as the Braves take one from the RiverDogs, 3-2. Ewin (2-0) had a no-hitter thru 5 when he was removed, recording 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. C Miguel Bernard and SS Luis Hernandez each had 3 hits, and 2B Jonathan Schuerholz went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Danville Braves 5, Bluefield Orioles 4 -- DH Greg Donato hit his 2nd home run of the year on a 2-for-4, 2 RBI day, as Danville defeats Bluefield, 5-4. CF Matt Esquivel went 1-for-3 and added an RBI. Charles Morton gave up 3 runs in 4 innings in the start, but wasn't involved in the decision. Whitt Farr picked up the win in relief, allowing 1 hit over 3.2 IP, with 3 K's, to move his record to 1-0.

Melbourne Marlins 1, Orlando Braves 2 -- Have I mentioned Steve Doetsch can hit? Doetsch hit his second and third homers of the year on a 3-for-4, 2 RBI day, accounting for all of the Braves runs in their 2-1 victory over the Marlins. JoJo Reyes allowed just one hit in earning the victory, tossing 5 innings and giving up just one unearned run, improving his record to 1-0. Dan Smith earned his first save, fanning 3 in 2 innings of work.

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