for this game

Bennett earns first win in 3 1/2 years as Braves top Brewers

Sep 21, 2007 - 4:22 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- A former teammate put a dent in the Milwaukee Brewers' playoff chances.

Jeff Bennett allowed one run in his 2007 debut and Chipper Jones retook control of the National League batting race by collecting three hits and driving in two runs as the Atlanta Braves posted a 3-1 victory over the Brewers on Thursday.

With the win, Atlanta (80-73) climbed within 4 1/2 games of the struggling New York Mets (84-68) in the National League East Division and remained 5 1/2 behind the surging San Diego Padres (85-67) for the wild card. New York dropped a wild extra-inning contest at Florida on Thursday.

Milwaukee (78-74) entered Thursday one game behind the idle Chicago Cubs (79-73) in the NL Central but facing a familiar foe.

The 27-year-old Bennett (1-0) was 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 60 relief appearances in 2004 for the Brewers. But the Tennessee native was sent to Class AAA Nashville the following season.

"I really like those guys," Bennett said of his former teammates. "We won a championship when we played with Nashville in '05. I'm friends with a lot of guys. It was more fun than anything."

Making his major league debut as a starter Thursday, Bennett dazzled, surrendering one run, six hits and a walk while striking out eight in 5 2/3 frames to dispatch his former club.

"I tried to think in my heart that I belonged here," said Bennett, who did not even have his name displayed over his locker in the clubhouse. "I pitched against two real good teams with Durham and Scranton. I took a step back and said, 'You were playing with these guys a few years ago.'"

Former Nashville teammate Rickie Weeks provided the lone blemish against Bennett, smashing a 439-foot homer into the right-center field bleachers in the third inning for his 12th blast of the season.

Atlanta signed the righthander after he underwent "Tommy John" surgery in 2006 and inserted him into Class AAA Richmond's rotation late this season. Bennett, who grew up a fan of the Braves, responded by posting a 2-0 record with a 1.04 ERA in three appearances for Richmond, which made a late surge to capture the International League crown this season.

Bennett worked out of trouble in the first, fourth and fifth frames.

In the first, he wiggled out of a two-on, one-out jam by striking out MVP candidate Prince Fielder and Corey Hart to end the threat. In the fourth, Bennett worked around a two-out double by Geoff Jenkins by striking out Damian Miller.

One frame later, the righthander stranded J.J. Hardy at second base with one out by striking out Weeks and Joe Dillon.

"You're not going to rattle him," batterymate Brian McCann said. "He knows he has the stuff to pitch here and stay here."

Bennett also got out of a jam in the sixth, issuing a one-out walk to Fielder before recording the second out on a grounder by Hart. Jenkins followed with a single to right field, advancing Hart to third and chasing Bennett, who left to a standing ovation from the crowd.

"Bennett did a good job after the first couple of innings," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He started getting that slider down and was really effective. I think it was a great first major league start. Coming off an operation on his arm and only having a handful of starts, I think he did great."

Reliever Manny Acosta struck out Damian Miller to end the threat.

"All year long, we have been battling back," Weeks said. "We couldn't get it done tonight. The pennant race is getting closer and closer. We have to win games from here on out."

Acosta worked out of a two-out, two-on jam in the seventh. Ron Mahay and Tyler Yates combined to blank the Brewers in the eighth and Rafael Soriano hurled a 1-2-3 ninth to record his eighth save.

Atlanta, which has won five straight for the first time since June 25-30, can thank Jones for their success.

Jones, who entered Thursday's contest one-thousandth of a percentage point behind Colorado's Matt Holliday for the NL batting crown, smashed three hits, scored once and drove in two runs to reclaim the lead with a .342 average.

Holliday is batting .339 after going 1-for-4 in Colorado's 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. Jones' teammate Edgar Renteria is third in the league with a .336 average.

Milwaukee giftwrapped Atlanta a run in the first.

Jones smashed a two-out single to start the rally before Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (10-11) walked Mark Teixeira. McCann lofted a fly ball to right field, which Dillon overran.

The 32-year old Dillon tried to come back for the ball but appeared to tweak his ankle. It dropped for a single, plating Jones for a 1-0 lead.

"I missed it," Dillon said. "That play should have been made. I didn't get a good read off the bat. I have no excuse."

"I'll take it," McCann said with a smile. "It was one of those things. Baseball has its way of working itself out."

Atlanta padded the advantage to 3-0 in the second, when Jones laced a two-out, two-run single to right field with the bases loaded.

"Having the bases loaded with Chipper up was a difficult situation," Suppan said. "I tried to make the best pitch possible. Honestly, I don't know what the pitch was. He's a very, very good hitter."

Suppan allowed three runs and seven hits, walked two and struck out six in six frames en route to falling to 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 17 road starts this season.

Fielder went 0-for-3, snapping his 17-game hitting streak for the Brewers, who have lost 47-of-78 road contests this year.








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

    BATTERIES: MIL - JEFF SUPPAN, SETH MCCLUNG (7TH), RAY KING (8TH) AND DAMIAN
    MILLER, MIKE RIVERA (8TH)
    ATL - JEFF BENNETT, MANNY ACOSTA (6TH), RON MAHAY
    (8TH), TYLER YATES (8T

    Sep 20 10:13 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RICKIE WEEKS (12) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 3RD OFF JEFF BENNETT.
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 1, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: J DILLON (.365, 1-FOR-1)

    Brewers vs. BravesSep 20 8:21 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CHIPPER JONES SCORED ANDRUW JONES AND MATT DIAZ.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, 1 LEFT ON, 3 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 0
    ATLANTA 3 END BOTTOM, 2ND

    Brewers vs. BravesSep 20 8:16 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRIAN MCCANN SCORED CHIPPER JONES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B MCCANN ON FIRST, M TEIXEIRA ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 0
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.293, 17 HR, 101 RBI)

    Brewers vs. BravesSep 20 7:54 PM