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Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 12:33 AM EDT



  R H E  
Braves 4 7 0 WP: Smoltz (1-3)
LP: Martinez (2-1)
S: Foster (1)  
Mets 3 12 1
Smoltz tops Martinez to earn elusive first win

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) -- The second round in the battle of former Cy Young Award winners went to John Smoltz , thanks to an unheralded reliever.

Smoltz allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings and batterymate Johnny Estrada drove in three runs as the Atlanta Braves defeated Pedro Martinez and the New York Mets , 4-3.

Smoltz, who served as the Braves' closer for 3 1/2 seasons after posting double-digit win totals 10 of the previous 11 seasons, returned to the rotation following the offseason acquisition of closer Danny Kolb. But it was John Foster - who was making just his second appearance of the season after missing all of 2004 with a shoulder injury - who sealed the victory for Smoltz with his first career save.

The game marked a rematch of an April 10 contest in Atlanta, where Martinez pitched a dazzling two-hitter to win, 6-1. Smoltz took the loss despite tying a career high with 15 strikeouts.

"People were expecting a 1-0 game with 14-15 strikeouts," Martinez said. "Those things don't happen every day."

Neither starter was as sharp in this one, but Smoltz (1-3) benefited from some rare offensive support and won as a starter for the first time since June 3, 2001 against the Pittsburgh Pirates .

"Against Pittsburgh? I couldn't even tell you what happened," Smoltz said. "It was a battle tonight. I was just grinding. When you face the same team again, it's a difficult situation because you try to outguess yourself. I tried to play it a little differently."

It also was Smoltz's first regular-season win of any kind since August 19, 2002 against Colorado.

The 1996 National League Cy Young Award winner, Smoltz missed all of 2000 after undergoing elbow surgery and became a closer the following season.

"My patience has paid off," said Smoltz, who made his first start at Shea Stadium since Game Four of the 1999 NL Championship Series. "A younger John Smoltz would have had a tougher time out there tonight."

Smoltz allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out four. He left with a pair of runners on in the seventh before Chris Reitsma got Carlos Beltran to fly out, preserving a 4-1 lead.

In the ninth, Jose Reyes and pinch hitter Mike Piazza had run-scoring hits against the struggling Kolb, but Foster got Cliff Floyd to pop out with runners on the corners to end the game.

"It's something I've always dreamed of," said Foster, who last pitched in the major leagues with Milwaukee in 2003.

"He's got ice water in his veins," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Floyd had a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, but it was the final at-bat he will remember most.

"To go up there and outthink myself, I will be tough on me tonight," Floyd said. "I had no clue who I was facing."

The Braves had scored just three runs in Smoltz's first four starts this season and matched that in the first inning alone against Martinez. A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Martinez (2-1) lost for the first time as a Met, giving up four runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Rookie Pete Orr and Marcus Giles singled in the first before Brian Jordan delivered an RBI double one out later. Estrada, who added a run-scoring double in the third, then blooped a two-run double near the right field line to make it 3-0.

"I thought they hit good pitches. They just went out and jumped on me," Martinez said. "The results weren't there, but I was satisfied with my effort."

David Wright drove in the Mets' first run with a double in the second.

The Braves again played without third baseman Chipper Jones , who missed his second straight game with a bruised left foot.

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