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Updated: Sunday, July 18, 2004 6:25 PM EDT
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ATLANTA 16, MONTREAL 5
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Braves are getting their offense in gear at just the right time.

Chipper Jones homered and drove in four runs and Eli Marrero hit a grand slam in a five-run first inning as the Braves remained torrid in July with a 16-5 dismantling of the Montreal Expos .

Marrero, Rafael Furcal , J.D. Drew and starter John Thomson had two hits apiece as Atlanta recorded 15 in the rout. The Braves won for the 11th time in 14 games this month and lead the major leagues with 99 runs in July.

Thomson (7-7) pitched to the early lead, allowing three runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four in evening his lifetime record against Montreal at 5-5.

Montreal starter Scott Downs (1-4) was tagged for nine runs and seven innings in two-plus innings.

In the first, J.D. Drew extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games with a single and Chipper Jones followed with a triple. After Downs walked Julio Franco and Andruw Jones , Marrero smashed a 2-2 offering into the seats in left.

It was the third career grand slam for Marrero and first since August 31, 2002 against the Cubs.

"Marrero, he gets overlooked by all this stuff," said Braves manager Bobby Cox . "He's been as hot a hitter as anybody in the league."

The Braves tacked on six runs in the third to open up an 11-1 advantage. Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer in the inning and finished with a single, triple and home run. He had a chance to hit for the cycle in the eighth, but was walked on eight pitches by Expos reliever Chad Bentz .

"After I got the single to left (in the sixth), Bobby was going to take me out of the game," Chipper Jones said. "I told him, 'heck no.' It's not often when you get a chance to shoot for something like that."

It was the ninth time this season Expos pitching surrendered 10 or more runs.

"We couldn't throw the ball over the plate," said Expos manager Frank Robinson . "No pitching, no chance."

Center fielder Andruw Jones helped Thomson by making a number of stellar defensive plays. He recorded two assists in the second inning by throwing out Juan Rivera and Einar Diaz at the plate and made a nice diving catch on a line drive by Orlando Cabrera to end the fourth.

"I had some good defensive plays behind me," said Thompson. "It's good to get those runs early, but I have to go out there and be more aggressive."

Tony Batista had two hits for Montreal, including the Expos' first righthanded home run in the month of July.

With the win, the Braves forged a first place tie with the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East Division. Atlanta will play its next two games against the Phillies, who have yet to win an intradivisional series against the three teams chasing them in the East the Braves, the Mets, and the Marlins.

"It's good to have a game like this game going into a series against the Phils," said Atlanta second baseman Marcus Giles . "It's going to be a great two games."


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