Braves slam newest Bird
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Weaver stumbles in Cards debut; win streak ends in rout
ST. LOUIS -- The only thing missing on another huge night for the Atlanta Braves' offense was an extra-base hit from Chipper Jones.
Brian McCann hit a grand slam and leadoff man Wilson Betemit was 4-for-6 with a homer and five RBIs in a 15-3 victory Monday night that snapped the St. Louis Cardinals' seven-game winning streak.
Jones had to settle for a share of the major league record for extra-base hits in 14 consecutive games, settling for three singles and two RBIs.
He shares the record set by Pittsburgh's Paul Waner in 1927. The Braves third baseman has a 17-game hitting streak, and during his run he had eight doubles, a triple and seven homers.
"I knew it was going to come to an end at some point, but at least I got my name up there," Jones said. "I'd like to have it to myself, but I'm not going to be disappointed with a 15-run outburst."
Manager Bobby Cox knew Jones was tied for the record, although he believed it was a different Hall of Famer.
"His name will always be there with Tris Speaker and that's good enough for me," Cox said.
Adam LaRoche was 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, Jeff Francoeur had three hits and reliever Jorge Sosa homered for the Braves, who have won a season-high six straight and scored in double figures the last four games, totaling 51 runs in that span.
"It's pretty amazing," starter Horacio Ramirez said. "I hope this keeps going until October."
A five-run third highlighted by McCann's first career grand slam removed suspense from the end of the Cardinals' season-best winning streak and Jeff Weaver's attempt at a fresh start with his new team.
A season-high 20 hits helped Ramirez (5-3) bounce back from the worst outing of his career with five solid innings, the only damage coming on Jim Edmonds' 12th homer in the fourth. He gave up one run and two hits, after lasting only one inning and giving up seven runs to Cincinnati on July 7.
Pitching in 96-degree heat at game time, he was removed for precautionary reasons due to fatigue in his right hamstring after warming up for the sixth. He was on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring for nearly two months after being injured in his first start.
"It's a concern because it's nagging, but I don't think it'll keep me out," Ramirez said. "It was real hot out there and the first two or three innings were real tough."
The Cardinals entered the game with a major-league best 1.29 ERA since the break, allowing six runs in a four-game sweep over the Los Angeles Dodgers. But Weaver, picked up for a minor leaguer after going 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels, lasted four innings, giving up six runs and eight hits.
"It's not what you had in mind, that's for sure," Weaver (0-1) said. "But I obviously wasn't as sharp as I would have liked to have been.
"I think bullpen sessions are fine, but once you get out there and compete your intensity level raises a little bit."
Pitching for the first time since June 27, Weaver trailed 1-0 before McCann's grand slam on a 3-2 count.
Betemit hit his eighth homer in the fourth, had a two-run single in the fifth off Randy Flores and a two-run double off Josh Hancock in the sixth that made it 13-1. Francoeur tripled, singled twice and scored three runs, and LaRoche had three hits, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
Jones is 37-for-69 (.536) with seven homers and 22 RBIs during his hitting streak, which includes 13 multihit games. He walked on a full count in the first, and had singles in the fourth, fifth and ninth. He flied out in the third and lined out to the warning track in center in the seventh on a nice running catch by Jim Edmonds, Jones' lone bid for extra bases.
"To be honest with you, I really only had one chance, and a good center fielder ran it down," Jones said. "Jimmy ran it down."
Albert Pujols had an RBI double in the sixth off Sosa. Cox paid a testy visit to the mound after So Taguchi and Pujols doubled to start the sixth, apparently telling his reliever to bear down.
"Oh, I don't know," Cox said. "It just didn't look like he was loose to me."
Notes: Paid attendance of 44,507 put the Cardinals, who have sold out all 48 home games, to surpass 2 million in the first season at new Busch Stadium. ... The lone positive for Weaver was his 1,000th career strikeout against Edgar Renteria in the fourth. ... LaRoche is 8-for-11 against the Cardinals this season. ... Before the game, Weaver had been 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA against the Braves. ... The Cardinals' bullpen had thrown 20 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings before giving up a run in the ninth on Sunday, then gave up nine in five innings on Monday. ... Sosa is 3-for-20, all homers, after connecting against Josh Kinney in the eighth. ... The Braves tied their season high for runs, set Friday against the Padres.