for this game

Nationals overcome Smoltz's milestone night

Apr 23, 2008 - 3:31 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- On a night when John Smoltz reached another yet milestone in his Hall of Fame career, John Lannan stole the show.

Smoltz became the 16th pitcher in major league history to record 3,000 strikeouts, but Lannan hurled seven shutout innings as the Washington Nationals breezed to a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday at Turner Field.

The 40-year-old Smoltz (3-1), who became the first pitcher in major league history to record 200 wins and 150 saves last season, entered this one with 2,996 strikeouts, four shy of becoming the fifth active pitcher to eclipse the 3,000-strikeout mark.

The 1996 Cy Young Award winner quickly punched out Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns in the second inning before inducing Lannan (1-2) to strike out swinging for the first out in the third.

Smoltz followed by striking out Felipe Lopez swinging with an 88 mile-per-hour, split-finger fastball to add yet another astounding accomplishment to his storybook career.

"I was pretty anxious, more anxious than I thought," Smoltz said. "I downplayed the record as best I could. ... We went to the split and the split was pretty wicked tonight. I got him to swing at it."

Lopez didn't mind being the victim of Smoltz's historical night.

"It's cool to be part of history," Lopez said. "It's something special, but it's not something special to strike out. What can I say? I happened to be No. 3,000. If it happens, it happens. I was the lucky one."

Catcher Brian McCann, who was 4 years old when the righthander struck out the Mets' Darryl Strawberry for his first career strikeout on July 23, 1988, presented Smoltz with the game ball at the mound, while the Turner Field crowd of 23,482 gave Atlanta's ace a standing ovation.

"It was awesome," said Atlanta native McCann, who grew up idolizing Smoltz and the Braves. "Smoltz was Smoltz tonight. For him to get that record and for only 16 players to do it, however he downplays it, it's a big deal. He's one of the best, and the league's been around a long time."

Smoltz was hugged by long-time teammate Chipper Jones before he tipped his hat to the crowd and pointed to his friends in his luxury box down the first base line.

"The fans were great," Smoltz said. "They caused me to do something I wasn't used to doing, really revving up the energy with two strikes. ... The ovation would have gone on for a long time. I wanted to acknowledge them."

Smoltz could not have pitched much better on his milestone day, allowing one run and five hits in seven solid frames. He threw 68 of his 105 pitches for strikes and fanned 10 en route to notching his 45th career double-digit strikeout game.

"Tremendous performance by Smoltz," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who as general manager of the team swung the deal for Doyle Alexander to bring Smoltz to Atlanta in 1987. "He's not going to throw the ball any better than that. ... John's performance is a tremendous milestone in the game of baseball. There's only a couple of dozen who have done that. I think it's a remarkable feat."

Lastings Milledge and former Brave Willie Harris collected back-to-back doubles to account for the Washington's lone run against Smoltz in the second.

Smoltz, who ended his night by striking out Lannan swinging - the 3,006th of his career - deserved a better fate.

"Some of the greatest games in my career have found ways to be like this," Smoltz said. "But I realize in my older, wiser days, that I could only control one part of the game."

Lannan, who was a mere 3 years old when Smoltz recorded his inaugural strikeout, outdueled the future Hall of Famer, scattering five hits, walking three and striking out four over seven frames to notch his first win of the season.

"It was special," Lannan said. "I've watched him since I was a kid. It was a great win. It gives us a confidence boost."

The closest Atlanta came to scoring against the southpaw came in the fourth. Jeff Francoeur laced a one-out single to left-center field and advanced to second on Matt Diaz's two-out single. But Lannan struck out Mark Kotsay to end the threat.

"He flat-out outpitched me," Smoltz said. "It will be a moment he will remember because of what the game was like."

Washington broke the game open with a five-run ninth. A throwing error by Atlanta reliever Jorge Campillo on what should have been an inning-ending double play, opened the floodgates for the Nationals, who sent 10 runners to the plate in the frame.

Lopez and Cristian Guzman drove in a run apiece and Ryan Zimmerman capped the frame by plating two with a double for Washington, which won for only the third time in its last 18 games.

"A win like that, with John Smoltz chasing 3,000 strikeouts, is worth two or three losses," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Chipper Jones was hitless in four at-bats to snap a 13-game hitting streak for Atlanta, which fell to 7-3 at home this season.








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

    BATTERIES: WAS - JOHN LANNAN, RAY KING (8TH), LUIS AYALA (8TH), JON RAUCH (9TH)
    AND WIL NIEVES
    ATL - JOHN SMOLTZ, BLAINE BOYER (8TH), ROYCE RING
    (8TH), JORGE CAMPILLO (9TH),

    Apr 22 9:57 PM
  • 5
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Nationals 6, Braves 0  Bot 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:54 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN ZIMMERMAN SCORED ROB MACKOWIAK AND FELIPE
    LOPEZ.
    SITUATION: 5 RUNS IN, R ZIMMERMAN ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 6
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: N JOHNSON (.222, 0-FOR-4)

    Nationals 6, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:53 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY CRISTIAN GUZMAN SCORED WIL NIEVES.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, F LOPEZ ON SECOND, R MACKOWIAK ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 4
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: R ZIMMERMAN (.216, 0-FOR-4)

    Nationals 4, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:53 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY FELIPE LOPEZ SCORED WILLIE HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, F LOPEZ ON FIRST, R MACKOWIAK ON SECOND, W
    NIEVES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 3
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: C GUZMAN (.307, 0-FOR-4)

    Nationals 3, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:42 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY WIL NIEVES SCORED LASTINGS MILLEDGE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W NIEVES ON FIRST, W HARRIS ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: L AYALA (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Nationals 2, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:38 PM
  • 40
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Nationals 1, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 22 9:27 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY WILLIE HARRIS SCORED LASTINGS MILLEDGE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W HARRIS ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR WASHINGTON: W NIEVES (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Nationals 1, Braves 0  Top 2, 0 OutsApr 22 7:28 PM
  • 5
    roots
    anorexicivan Added 5 roots

    Nationals vs. BravesApr 22 4:03 AM