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Updated: Thursday, July 1, 2004 1:34 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
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ATLANTA 9, FLORIDA 6
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It took longer than most, but Sam McConell's boyhood dream finally came true.

McConnell tossed 3 1/3 strong innings in relief to earn his first major league win and J.D. Drew hit two home runs as the Atlanta Braves posted a 9-6 victory over the Florida Marlins .

McConnell (1-0), a six-year minor league journeyman who grew up dreaming of playing for the Braves, entered the game in the top of the fourth inning and held the Marlins at bay. He surrendered only one run, one hit and three walks.

"It's very special," said McConnell, who was given the lineup card and a number of game balls. "It all happened so fast to get thrown up, and I get thrown in. I am loving every minute of it. It's an awesome feeling being able come up here to wear the Atlanta Braves uniform. I'm just very proud."

"Any young kid has to be thrilled to get his first win," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "He stopped us for a couple of innings."

The game was held up by rain for 74 minutes in the bottom of the second inning, the second lengthy delay in the series. Monday's opener was delayed for more than three hours at the start.

Atlanta's Paul Byrd and Florida's A.J. Burnett failed to return after the delay.

The Braves took a 3-2 lead on Drew's sacrifice fly off Darren Oliver in the second inning, but each team scored three runs in the third.

Travis Smith replaced Byrd and surrendered a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera and an RBI single to Alex Gonzalez .

Oliver (2-3) gave up the lead in the bottom half as Andruw Jones hit a run-scoring groundout, Charles Thomas had an RBI triple and Mike Hessman delivered drove in a run with a single.

"We never had the momentum," Florida third baseman Mike Lowell said. "You want to have the lead and extend it if you can. If you have the lead, you don't want them to answer back right away."

Oliver also yielded a solo homer to Drew in the fifth that made it 7-5.

"The guys hung in there and threw out quality at-bats," Drew said. "The only thing you want is quality at-bats."

McConnell tired in the seventh and the Marlins pulled within a run on Mike Redmond 's RBI single off Kevin Gryboski . The Braves put away the game on a two-run shot in the bottom half by Drew, who matched a career high with five RBI.

"I just put a good swing on the (homers)," said Drew, who recorded his seventh career multi-home run game and first since October 3, 2001. "Luckily they ended up going out of the yard."

"Drew put us back in it and put us back up in front," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox added. "He had a big night."

John Smoltz gave up a hit in the ninth but notched his 14th save in 15 opportunities.


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