Marlins
Braves
5 - 7 Final/10
  for this game

Escobar's homer rescues Braves, Smoltz

Jun 3, 2008 - 3:38 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Yunel Escobar saved John Smoltz in his return as closer of the Atlanta Braves.

Escobar smacked a two-run homer in the 10th inning to lead the Braves to a 7-5 win over the Florida Marlins on Monday.

Smoltz, who was activated from the disabled list earlier Monday, blew the save in his first relief appearance since 2004 for Atlanta, which has won 23 of 30 at Turner Field.

"I'm glad we're talking about a win," said Smoltz, who saved 154 games as Atlanta's closer from 2001-2004. "It wasn't in my script, (but) we won the game."

Kelly Johnson drew a leadoff walk from Marlins reliever Logan Kensing (3-1) and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Escobar blasted a shot into the right-center field gap, which bounced off the top off the wall to give the Braves the victory.

"It feels really good," Escobar said through translator Gregor Blanco. "This is the first time for me (to hit a walk-off homer). To help Smoltz, it feels awesome."

It looked like it might be a triumphant return for Smoltz, as Atlanta rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth off Marlins reliever Matt Lindstrom.

Blanco ignited what appeared to be the game-winning rally for Atlanta with a double down the left field line before pinch hitter Johnson drew an intentional walk.

Escobar followed with a single up the middle to give the Braves a 4-3 lead, setting the stage for Smoltz.

The 41-year-old Smoltz, who has been bothered by inflammation in his right shoulder all season, was moved from Atlanta's starting rotation back to the closer role after he spent 37 days on the disabled list this season.

Smoltz entered the game to a standing ovation despite an in-game programming error where the Braves video crew showed a "Pict-O-Word" promotion instead of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck."

"It's the first time all year that I had goose bumps in the outfield," Braves right fielder Francoeur said. "That is - when they finally got it right and played his song after 'Pict-O-Word.'"

However, the Cy Young Award winner, who became the first pitcher in major league history to record 200 wins and 150 saves, could not shut the door in this one.

Matt Treanor started the Marlins rally with a one-out double into the right-center field gap before he was replaced by pinch runner Alfredo Amezaga. Pinch hitter Wes Helms advanced Treanor to second with a single and alertly advanced to second after Francoeur's throw to the plate on Hanley Ramirez's fly ball veered wildly down the third base line.

Jeremy Hermida followed with a single, plating Amezaga and Helms to give Florida a 5-4 lead.

"I left a couple of pitches up," said Smoltz, who admitted that nerves may have gotten the better of him during the appearance. "It's the worst feeling in all of baseball. The ones that are good go out there and forget about it and don't go off the blown save stat."

"He was coming off the DL and was trying to figure out his pitches," Hermida said. "We were very fortunate to get to him tonight. He's one of the best in the game."

Smoltz's teammates agreed and were not too concerned with their new closer's blown save.

"I've got all the confidence in the world in Smoltz," Francoeur said. "I'm sure, if anything, he was a little nervous."

Nevertheless, it was an impressive return for Smoltz, who altered his pitching angle from over the top to three-quarters due to the injury. Despite the new mechanics and the absence of the split-fingered fastball in his repertoire, the veteran hurler still managed to hit 95 miles per hour on the radar gun.

"He's gifted as an athlete and a tough guy and he plays with pain," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who was not surprised at Smoltz's velocity. "I think he was throwing harder (than 95)."

Florida closer Kevin Gregg let Smoltz off the hook, issuing walks to Francoeur and Brian McCann before Francoeur advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

"Once McCann got to a 3-2 count, I knew we had a shot," Francoeur said. "Gregg, I knew threw a lot of sliders and I had an excellent lead. I decided to take a chance. It's not something that pitchers are comfortable with covering home."

"Anytime you walk batter's it's going to kill you," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Nobody took advantage of their opportunities until the ninth inning."

Will Ohman (2-0) hurled a scoreless 10th for the win.

Mark Teixeira homered and drove in two runs and Francoeur hit a solo shot for Atlanta, which won for just the second time in seven games.

Chipper Jones finished 2-for-4 with a walk to raise his league-leading average to .407 for Atlanta, which won for just the second time in seven games.








  • NL
    FINAL 10
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    - - - - - - - - -
    FLORIDA 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 2
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
    10 R H E
    -- - - -
    FLORIDA 0 5 8 1
    ATLANTA 2 7 9 1 (FINAL 10)

    BATTERIES: FLA

    Jun 2 10:12 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY YUNEL ESCOBAR (5) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 10TH OFF LOGAN KENSING SCORED KELLY JOHNSON.
    FINAL SCORE: ATLANTA 7, FLORIDA 5

    Marlins 5, Braves 7  Bot 10, 0 OutsJun 2 10:12 PM
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    Marlins 5, Braves 5  Top 10, 0 OutsJun 2 10:05 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    WILD PITCH BY KEVIN GREGG ALLOWED JEFF FRANCOEUR TO
    SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J ANDERSON ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 5
    ATLANTA 5 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: G BLANCO (.275, 1-FOR-4)

    Marlins 5, Braves 5  Bot 9, 0 OutsJun 2 10:04 PM
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    Marlins 5, Braves 5  Bot 9, 0 OutsJun 2 10:04 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JEREMY HERMIDA SCORED ALFREDO AMEZAGA. ERROR BY
    GREG NORTON ALLOWED WES HELMS TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J HERMIDA ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 5
    ATLANTA 4 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: J CANTU (.268, 0-FOR-3, SF, RBI)

    Marlins 5, Braves 4  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 2 9:45 PM
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    Marlins 3, Braves 4  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 2 9:42 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY YUNEL ESCOBAR SCORED GREGOR BLANCO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, Y ESCOBAR ON FIRST, K JOHNSON ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 4 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: O INFANTE (.250, 0-FOR-4)

    Marlins 3, Braves 4  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 2 9:29 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY CODY ROSS SCORED DAN UGGLA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C ROSS ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 3 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: M TREANOR (.270, 0-FOR-2)

    Marlins 3, Braves 3  Top 7, 0 OutsJun 2 8:47 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MARK TEIXEIRA (9) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 5TH OFF SCOTT OLSEN.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 2, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.258, 1-FOR-2, HR, RBI)

    Marlins 2, Braves 3  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 2 8:24 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY LUIS GONZALEZ SCORED DAN UGGLA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, L GONZALEZ ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 2
    ATLANTA 2 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: C ROSS (.216, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Marlins 2, Braves 2  Top 4, 0 OutsJun 2 8:07 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JORGE CANTU SCORED JEREMY HERMIDA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 2 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: M JACOBS (.257, 0-FOR-1)

    Marlins 1, Braves 2  Top 4, 0 OutsJun 2 8:02 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MARK TEIXEIRA SCORED YUNEL ESCOBAR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M TEIXEIRA ON FIRST, C JONES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 0
    ATLANTA 2 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.259, 1-FOR-1, HR, RBI)

    Marlins 0, Braves 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsJun 2 7:52 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JEFF FRANCOEUR (7) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 2ND OFF SCOTT OLSEN.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 0, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: B MCCANN (.318, 10 HR, 33 RBI)

    Marlins 0, Braves 1  Bot 2, 0 OutsJun 2 7:28 PM
  • FosterGrant C'mon Marlins fans! Root this baby up!

    Sincerely,

    A Braves fan

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