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Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 1:44 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
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ATLANTA 6, COLORADO 5
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Julio Franco continues to stay one step ahead of Father Time.

The 46-year-old Franco had three hits, drove in a run and started a pair of key rallies as the Atlanta Braves rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies .

After Jorge Piedra hit a solo homer - the first of his career - and Jeromy Burnitz a three-run blast in the top of the first, Franco started the comeback in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single.

"I think I'm the same hitter I was on Sunday in L.A.," Franco said after celebrating a birthday on Monday. "I'm going to go out there and do my best. Whatever happens, happens."

Todd Helton increased the Rockies lead to 5-1 with a run-scoring double in the fifth inning, but the Braves responded with a four-run rally in the sixth.

Franco led off with a double off center fielder Piedra's glove and advanced to third on a one-out single by Eli Marrero . Rookie Charles Thomas followed with a weak grounder to shortstop, forcing Marrero, but was able to use his speed to stave off an inning-ending double play. Franco scored on the play and pinch hitter Mark DeRosa followed with a single to chase Colorado starter Shawn Estes .

Rafael Furcal greeted reliever Tim Harikkala (5-3) with a two-run triple off the top of the right field wall and scored on a double by Marcus Giles that glanced off the glove of diving shortstop Royce Clayton , tying the game.

Harikkala had limited opposing batters to a major league best .050 (2-for-40) with runners in scoring position coming into Tuesday's contest.

"Balls found holes," Harikkala said. "Giles hit that ball up the middle in a perfect spot. It kind of went past me."

"We battled our way back," Thomas added. "We were able to put together some hits. It was a big inning."

Celebrating his 26th birthday, Furcal was 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and two RBI.

"I've been hitting the ball pretty good at the plate all month," Furcal said. "Today, I got lucky because I hit the ball hard and it didn't go right at anybody."

In the seventh, Franco reached on a one-out single and advanced on an infield hit by Johnny Estrada before he was lifted for pinch runner Mike Hampton . Marrero followed with an RBI base hit to give the Braves the lead.

"It was a great game," Franco said. "I know this ballclub, we can always come back. I'm not expecting any team to come to Atlanta and play us easy."

Kevin Gryboski (2-2) retired one batter to pick up the win and, after Chris Reitsma wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, John Smoltz pitched the ninth to notch his 33rd save.

"A loss is a loss," Burnitz said. "But when you're leading pretty much the whole game and you lose the lead late, it's disappointing."

Braves right fielder J.D. Drew missed the contest after cutting his head on the top of the Braves dugout after batting practice. He is day-to-day.


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