Atlanta Braves gain first place in costly victory


Andruw Jones hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the fifth inning Tuesday as the Atlanta Braves claimed first place in the National League East for the first time this season with a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.

It took until their 52nd game of the season for the Braves to claim sole possession of first place.

“That’s what we’ve been shooting for all year,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Atlanta’s ninth win in 12 games was costly for the battered Braves, who have won 10 straight division titles.

Chipper Jones was forced to leave the game after fouling a ball off his right leg. He left the ballpark on crutches and is expected to be sidelined at least a few days.

The injury to second baseman Marcus Giles was significantly worse. Giles twisted his right ankle while trying to avoid a tag at first base and was placed on the disabled list.

“We’re in first all by ourselves, and we have guys off the bench doing what it takes,” Jones said. “But we had to pay the price with a couple of guys going down.”

Atlanta starter Damian Moss (2-1) gave up two runs in five innings for the win, and the Braves’ bullpen held Montreal scoreless the rest of the way. John Smoltz worked a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.

Masato Yoshii (2-2) gave up three runs in 1 1-3 relief innings in the loss. In other NL games, it was: Chicago 3, Pittsburgh 0; Cincinnati 6, Florida 5 in 11 innings; St. Louis 4, Houston 1; Los Angeles 8, Milwaukee 4; San Francisco 1, Arizona 0 in 10 innings; and Colorado 3, San Diego 2 in 12 innings. Piniella sees red over a man

in blue as Devil Rays

defeat Mariners Ryan Rupe pitched his first career complete game and John Flaherty hit his second career grand slam Tuesday as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Watching umpire John Shulock’s calls for a second time sent Seattle manager Lou Piniella over the edge.

The Mariners manager seethed over Shulock’s strike zone for five innings before replays of Tampa Bay’s five-run third inning brought Sweet Lou storming out of the dugout.

Piniella pointed angrily at the video screen highlights, got ejected and covered home plate with dirt.

“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, and the umpires’ got to do what they got to do. But if the replays hadn’t been shown, I wouldn’t have gotten thrown out,” Piniella said.

Once he was ejected, Piniella kicked once toward Shulock and nine times on home plate before getting down on one knee and using his hands to completely cover the plate with dirt.

The ejection was the second this season for Piniella. Shulock was reluctant to talk about the ejection, but did say: “I have no grudge for Lou and no chip on my shoulder.”

Ryan Rupe pitched his first career complete game for the Devil Rays, who won two of three games against the defending AL West champions at Safeco Field last week.

Rupe (5-5) finished with a five-hitter, beating the Mariners for the second straight time after losing his first four career decisions against them.

Flaherty’s grand slam finished a five-run third inning against Seattle right-hander Joel Pineiro (4-2), who allowed five runs in three innings. In other AL games, it was: Boston 6, Toronto 4; New York 4, Chicago 2; Oakland 5, Baltimore 2; Cleveland 4, Detroit 2; Kansas City 7, Anaheim 4; and Minnesota 11, Texas 4.