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Francoeur's blast buoys Braves past Nationals

Sep 9, 2007 - 4:09 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Don't look now, but the Atlanta Braves have won three in a row.

Jeff Francoeur smashed a three-run homer and Chuck James pitched solidly into the seventh inning to lead the Braves to a 9-2 win over the defensively challenged Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Entering Wednesday's contest against Philadelphia, Atlanta seemed lost, dropping 13 of 19 contests before rallying from a six-run eighth inning deficit to defeat the second-place Phillies.

Playing for their playoff lives, John Smoltz dazzled on Friday by taking a no-hitter into the eighth. On Saturday, it was Francoeur and James' turn to keep the winning streak alive.

Francoeur powered a four-run fifth by smashing his 17th of the season the opposite way off the glove of right fielder Austin Kearns and over the right field wall to give the Braves a 6-0 lead.

"It was nice to get a little break and get it out," Francoeur said. "You'll take it if you can get it. (As an outfielder), you don't want that to happen to you."

"I didn't know (if it hit my glove or not)," Kearns said. "I saw the replay and I don't think it did."

The blast culminated what was another miserable defensive performance from the Nationals.

In front of the Little League World Champions from Warner Robbins, Georgia, the Nationals, who committed five errors on Friday, resembled more of a Little League team than major leaguers - committing three more errors, which led to six unearned runs on Saturday.

"Obviously, we haven't been playing good defense over the last two games," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "Defense is a part of our game. We're not going to out-slug anyone."

Felipe Lopez's throwing error lead two unearned runs in the first.

Kelly Johnson smashed a one out single before Chipper Jones reached on Lopez's error and Mark Teixeira followed with a single to load the bases.

Nationals starter Matt Chico (5-8) followed by issuing a bases-loaded walk to Francoeur and while Andruw Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.

"We've been getting lucky," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "They made a few errors that helped us a little bit."

Two more errors, a fly ball off the webbing of center fielder Nook Logan's glove and a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman - his fourth in two nights - preceded Francoeur's blast and lead to four unearned runs in the fifth.

"Tonight, I gave up no earned runs," Chico said. "But they didn't score because of the errors. I made bad pitches."

James (10-10) allowed two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in his third start since returning from a shoulder injury. The victory also broke a five-game winless streak for the 25-year-old lefthander, who had not won since July 31.

"It's really nice," James said. "I went out today and felt great. I finally could hit some spots. I had a good changeup and a good fastball today."

The 25-year old southpaw credited a change in his mechanics, which he picked up watching an old tape of a Class AAA performance on Friday night, for his stellar performance.

"I went out and looked at some old tape of me in the minor leagues," James said. "I knew I bent my back more and had more torque. I think it worked out."

Ronnie Belliard deposited James' lone mistake for a two-run homer in the seventh inning. James departed two batters later.

By winning three straight, Atlanta may have inched back into fringe of the wild card race.

The Braves (73-69) trail the New York Mets (80-61) by 7 1/2 games in the National League East, but are 4 1/2 games back of the wild card-leading San Diego Padres (77-64).

"Winning is the only thing we can do," Cox said. "They're up for it. They've been fired up." Yunel Escobar belted a solo homer, his fourth of the season, to cap the scoring in the eighth inning. Chico allowed six runs on six hits on five innings and is now 0-6 on the road.

Teixeira drove in a run with a single in the seventh for the Braves, who defeated the Nationals for the eighth time in nine tries in Atlanta this season.








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

    BATTERIES: WAS - MATT CHICO, JONATHAN ALBALADEJO (6TH), SAUL RIVERA (7TH),
    ARNIE MUNOZ (7TH), WINSTON ABREU (8TH) AND JESUS FLORES
    ATL - CHUCK JAMES, PETER MOYLAN (7TH), MANNY

    Sep 8 9:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY YUNEL ESCOBAR (4) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 8TH OFF WINSTON ABREU.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2, ATLANTA 9
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: E RENTERIA (.337, 2-FOR-4)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 9:35 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO BRIAN MCCANN SCORED MARK TEIXEIRA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, B MCCANN ON FIRST, A JONES ON SECOND, J
    FRANCOEUR ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 8 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M DIAZ (.345, 0-FOR-3)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 9:18 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MARK TEIXEIRA SCORED YUNEL ESCOBAR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M TEIXEIRA ON FIRST, C JONES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 7 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.295, 1-FOR-2, BB, HR, 4 RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 9:08 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY RONNIE BELLIARD (9) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 7TH OFF CHUCK JAMES SCORED AUSTIN KEARNS.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2, ATLANTA 6
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: J FLORES (.252, 0-FOR-2)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 8:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY JEFF FRANCOEUR (17) TO RIGHT WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 5TH OFF MATT CHICO SCORED CHIPPER JONES AND MARK
    TEIXEIRA.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0, ATLANTA 6
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: A JONES (.224, 0-FOR-1, SF, RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 8:32 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY MARK TEIXEIRA SCORED YUNEL ESCOBAR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M TEIXEIRA ON SECOND, C JONES ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.293, 0-FOR-1, BB, RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 8:30 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY ANDRUW JONES SCORED CHIPPER JONES.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J FRANCOEUR ON FIRST, M TEIXEIRA ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 2 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: B MCCANN (.275, 17 HR, 85 RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 7:21 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO JEFF FRANCOEUR SCORED EDGAR RENTERIA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J FRANCOEUR ON FIRST, M TEIXEIRA ON SECOND,
    C JONES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: A JONES (.224, 24 HR, 84 RBI)

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 8 7:20 PM
  • 5
    roots
    cramyamel Added 5 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesSep 1 8:24 PM