for this game

Smoltz flirts with no-hitter as Braves blitz Nationals

Sep 8, 2007 - 3:59 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Atlanta Braves might not make the playoffs, but they sure are giving their fans something to talk about down the stretch.

John Smoltz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and Chipper Jones smashed a three-run homer to power the Braves to a 7-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday.

The 40-year old Smoltz has accomplished many Hall of Fame-worthy milestones in his 20-year major league career, winning 205 games, recording 154 saves and striking out 2,937 batters entering Friday's game against the Nationals.

But the one thing the Atlanta ace had never done was hurl a no-hitter.

Facing woeful Washington, Smoltz (13-7) almost got one. The righthander allowed one run and one hit, walked two and struck out 10 in seven-plus frames and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

Needing 103 pitches to get through the first seven frames and fighting a head cold, a tiring Smoltz's dance with destiny ended when Ronnie Belliard laced a clean single on Smoltz's sixth pitch of the at-bat to right field to lead off the eighth.

"It was a hanging slider," Smoltz said. "The pitch he made before, I don't know how he fouled it off. I kept telling myself to throw it in the dirt."

"He got me (1-2) and threw a hanging pitch," Belliard said. "You don't expect that pitch in that situation."

With the no-hit bid lost, Braves manager Bobby Cox went to the mound to replace his veteran righthander. Smoltz, who tossed 70 of his 109 pitches for strikes, left to a standing ovation from the crowd, tipping his cap before he crossed into foul territory.

"I expect John very time to go out there and pitch a low run game and win," Cox said. "I always have."

"At his age, what he can do is unbelievable," Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "What he's doing is phenomenal."

Smoltz dominated the Nationals through the first seven frames, hurling first-pitch strikes to 17 of the first 24 batters he faced and notching his 43rd game with 10-plus strikeouts.

The only ball hit hard was a ball by Belliard, which landed inches foul in the fifth.

Smoltz also helped his own cause in the sixth, making a nifty barehanded grab to retire Nook Logan on a slow roller to the third-base side of the pitcher's mound.

The 40-year old Smoltz has been down the no-hit road before.

Smoltz flirted with a no-no on April 14, 1996 at San Diego, but that bid was spoiled in seventh when a hit by Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn glanced off the glove of left fielder Ryan Klesko for a double.

Upset with the official scorer, Smoltz, who hurled eight innings of one-hit ball in a 128-pitch performance, angrily threw a cup of water upon his return to the dugout.

"I have a no-hitter, I don't care what the record books say," Smoltz said. "Tony Gwynn hit a fly ball to left field, Ryan had it in his glove and it was ruled a double."

Smoltz also has a no-hit bid spoiled with one out in the ninth inning on May 27, 1990 against Philadelphia, when Lenny Dykstra smashed a one-out double.

The righthander recorded his only one-hitter on April 30, 1999 at Cincinnati.

"I'm surprised he doesn't have one to this point with how nasty his stuff is," Chipper Jones said. "But Roger Clemens doesn't have one. A lot of great pitchers don't have one."

Smoltz's flirtation with a no-hitter came two days after the Braves mounted their most remarkable comeback of the season by rallying from six-run deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-8, on Wednesday afternoon.

But the rally and Smoltz's heroics are likely too little, too late for the Braves, who trailed the New York Mets by 7 1/2 games in the National League East Division and were 5 1/2 behind the San Diego Padres for the wild card entering Friday.

Long-time teammate Jones gave Smoltz all the offense he would need in the third.

The 35-year old slugger smashed the 2-1 offering from Nationals starter Joel Hanrahan (4-3) into the Atlanta bullpen in right-center field to give the Braves a 3-0 edge.

Atlanta extended the advantage to 5-0 in the next frame, thanks to some shoddy Washington defense.

Andruw Jones reached on Ryan Zimmerman's throwing error and rookie Yunel Escobar followed with a walk, bringing up Smoltz.

Smoltz made his only other mistake of the night with the bat - bunting into a fielder's choice, retiring Andruw Jones. But even that turned out well for the Braves.

Zimmerman's throw to nab Smoltz at first sailed into the Braves dugout, advancing Escobar and Smoltz to second and third respectively. Hanrahan followed by uncorking a wild pitch, plating Escobar. The throw hit Escobar, and scooted to the Braves on-deck circle, allowing Smoltz to score and extend the edge to 5-0.

Francoeur plated Chipper Jones with a single in the fifth and Brian McCann's sacrifice fly in the seventh plated Jones to cap the Braves' scoring.

Hanrahan allowed five runs - four earned - and four hits, walked four and struck out three in 3 1/3 frames.

Pinch hitter Ryan Church drove in the lone run in the eighth for the Nationals, who committed five errors








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    WASHINGTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 5
    ATLANTA 0 0 3 2 1 0 1 0 x 7 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: WAS - JOEL HANRAHAN, MICAH BOWIE (4TH), MIKE BACSIK (6TH), ROSS
    DETWILER (8TH) AND BRIAN SCHNEIDER, JESUS FLORES (7TH)
    ATL - JOHN SMOLTZ, PETER MOYLAN (8TH), RAFAEL

    Sep 7 10:24 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN CHURCH SCORED RONNIE BELLIARD.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R CHURCH ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 7 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: N LOGAN (.268, 0-FOR-3)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:51 PM
  • 15
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 200 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:51 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY BRIAN MCCANN SCORED CHIPPER JONES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 7 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.294, 2-FOR-3, RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:41 PM
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    ijkaufman Added 5 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:36 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 29 roots (No-hitter)

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    Yankee82 Added 5 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:30 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 32 roots (No-hitter)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:24 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 32 roots (No-hitter)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:19 PM
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    stabbedabbe Added 5 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:15 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 32 roots (No-hitter)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:12 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JEFF FRANCOEUR SCORED CHIPPER JONES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J FRANCOEUR ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 6 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: A JONES (.224, 0-FOR-2)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 9:08 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 32 roots (No-hitter)

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    RUWTbot Added 43 roots (No-hitter)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 8:55 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY BRIAN SCHNEIDER ALLOWED JOHN SMOLTZ TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, NONE ON, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 5 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: W HARRIS (.287, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 8:51 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    WILD PITCH BY JOEL HANRAHAN ALLOWED YUNEL ESCOBAR TO
    SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J SMOLTZ ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 4 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: W HARRIS (.287, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 8:51 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY CHIPPER JONES (24) TO RIGHT WITH 0
    OUT IN THE 3RD OFF JOEL HANRAHAN SCORED WILLIE HARRIS AND KELLY
    JOHNSON.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M TEIXEIRA (.302, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 7 8:28 PM