Smoltz shaky in return for Atlanta


The sight of No. 29 back on the mound at Turner Field was the only reminder of the good times for the Atlanta Braves. John Smoltz struggled in his first start since elbow surgery, giving up three runs in the opening inning and two more in the second as the Atlanta lost to the Colorado Rockies 8-3 Thursday night. “You can’t expect miracles,” Smoltz said. “I really wanted to do well, obviously. I wanted to give the team a chance to win.” In his first appearance since the 1999 World Series, Smoltz sprinted onto the field ahead of his teammates to a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,221. The Rockies quickly doused the enthusiasm by batting around, with Todd Helton getting an RBI single before Jeff Cirillo hit a two-run homer. “I felt like that first inning lasted an hour,” Smoltz said. ‘I’ve waited a long time for that moment, but it was a little bit of a rough start.” It’s also been a rough start this season for the Braves, who were denied their first three-game winning streak of the year. Smoltz missed the entire 2000 season and tendinitis this spring forced him to spend another 6 1/2 weeks on the disabled list. After two successful rehab starts in the minors, he finally made his comeback with the Braves. “His stuff was really good,” Cirillo said. “The only thing I could see was he didn’t have his control.” Todd Walker added a two-out, two-run single in the second. Smoltz gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two before his night was done. Helton hit a two-run homer in the sixth against Chris Seelbach after the Braves closed to 5-3. Cardinals 12, Pirates 2 In Pittsburgh, J.D. Drew hit a three-run homer and Ray Lankford was 4-for-5 with a home run as visiting St. Louis won its 10th straight, the Cardinals’ longest winning streak since a 12-gamer in 1982. Seven of the wins have come against the last-place Pirates, who have lost six straight and 10 of 11. Matt Morris (6-2) won his fifth consecutive decision, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings. Padres 15, Mets 3 In New York, former Mets Rickey Henderson and Bubba Trammell hit two of San Diego’s four homers in a seven-run third inning at Shea Stadium. Alex Arias and Ryan Klesko also homered in the inning off Steve Trachsel (1-6), who became the first Mets pitcher and the 19th in major league history to allow four homers in an inning. Marlins 8, Giants 3 In Miami, Kevin Millar drove in four runs and Cliff Floyd had three hits and three RBIs for host Florida. Barry Bonds hit his 510th career homer, moving within one of Mel Ott for 15th on the career list. Chuck Smith (2-0) allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings. Expos 3, Dodgers 1 Tony Armas Jr. (3-5) allowed five hits in seven shutout innings, and Orlando Cabrera and Lee Stevens hit first-inning homers for Montreal. Montreal native Eric Gagne (1-3) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings in his homecoming. Astros 4, Cubs 2 In Chicago, Richard Hidalgo homered off Kyle Farnsworth (0-1) to break a 2-all tie in the seventh and send host Chicago to its seventh straight loss. Houston completed a three-game sweep and stretched its longest winning streak this season to five. Roy Oswalt (2-0) allowed just one hit in 2 1-3 innings, and Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 10th save. Diamondbacks 7, Reds 2 In Cincinnati, Luis Gonzalez hit his 19th homer shortly before a thunderstorm rumbled through, then added his 20th under clear skies as Arizona completed a three-game sweep. Brian Anderson (1-3) stayed fresh through a 2-hour, 53-minute rain delay, pitching six innings spread over five hours. He gave up four hits, including Jason LaRue’s two-run homer. Phillies 2, Brewers 1 In Philadelphia, second baseman Ronnie Belliard misplayed Scott Rolen’s bases-loaded grounder off Mike DeJean (2-1) in the 12th for a game-ending error. Philadelphia stopped its three-game losing streak and Milwaukee’s five-game winning streak. The Phillies’ bullpen pitched five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit — off Wayne Gomes (3-1) in the 12th. Cone so-so in first start David Cone started this season the same way he pitched most of last year. “I need to fine-tune some things and throw more strikes,” Cone said Thursday after lasting only three-plus innings for the Red Sox in the Minnesota Twins’ 5-3 win over Boston. Cone, making his first start in the majors since last Sept. 30 when he was with the New York Yankees, allowed two runs, two hits, four walks and a hit batter. Only 37 of 76 pitches by the 38-year-old right-hander were strikes. Cone went 4-14 last season, signed with the rival Red Sox on Jan. 11 and injured his right shoulder during spring training. He’s scheduled to pitch against New York at Yankee Stadium next week. At Minneapolis, Brad Radke (7-1) became baseball’s first seven-game winner, pitching a six-hitter for his third complete game in nine starts. Corey Koskie hit a three-run homer off Rolando Arrojo (1-2) in the fifth inning for the Twins (28-11), off to the best start in franchise history. Boston’s Manny Ramirez hit his 250th career homer. He became the first Boston player to reach the 50-RBI mark in 40 games played or fewer since Walt Dropo in 1950. Athletics 8, Yankees 3 In Oakland, Ramon Hernandez drove in the go-ahead run with a sixth inning double as Oakland completed a three-game sweep of visiting New York with its 10th win in 14 games. The Yankees have lost four straight. Miguel Tejada added a two-run double in the A’s four-run seventh. Chad Bradford (2-1) pitched two hitless innings. Mike Mussina (4-4) gave up four runs — three earned — and eight hits in six innings. Rangers 12, Indians 7 Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro hit consecutive homers in a 10-run second as Texas stopped Cleveland’s 11-game road winning streak. Chuck Finley (4-3) gave up eight runs and nine hits in one-plus inning, his shortest start since getting two outs for the Angels against Boston on June 15, 1991. Texas sent 14 batters to the plate in the second, highlighted by Rodriguez’s three-run homer. Scott Sheldon had a pair of RBI singles and Rusty Greer also drove in two runs in the inning. Kenny Rogers (2-3) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in seven innings. Mariners 5, White Sox 1 In Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 22 games, and Bret Boone hit a three-run homer off David Wells (3-4) as the Mariners won their eighth straight and improved to 31-9, the best record in the majors. Freddy Garcia (4-0) gave up one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings, and Jeff Nelson got four outs for his third save. Tigers 7, Orioles 5 In Baltimore, Robert Fick went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs as visiting Detroit avoided a three-game sweep.

Juan Encarnacion also homered for the Tigers.