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Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2005 3:42 AM EDT



  R H E  
Braves 5 9 0 WP: Smoltz (4-4)
LP: Carrasco (1-1)
S: Reitsma (2)  
Nationals 4 8 0
Betemit's homer sparks Braves past Nationals

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Rafael Furcal 's late injury opened the door for Wilson Betemit to star.

Betemit's second major league homer highlighted a three-run eighth inning as the Atlanta Braves rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Washington Nationals .

Furcal, who leads the National League in stolen bases (20), was a late scratch with a sore right shoulder and missed his first game of the season. He is listed as day-to-day.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox opted for Betemit, whose two-run blast against reliever Hector Carrasco (1-1) tied the game, 4-4. Two batters later, Marcus Giles singled home Pete Orr to give the Braves the lead.

"I tried to throw the slider down in the dirt and it stayed up" Carrasco said. "It didn't do anything. It stayed right at the middle of the plate. It was the only bad pitch I threw."

Braves catcher Johnny Estrada opened the scoring with his second homer of the season in the second inning against Tony Armas , who is winless in his last 10 road starts dating to April 10, 2003.

"We got some runs (and) they sort of made it happen," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "We just have not been hitting the ball the way we can. Wilson comes through big. He played great defense and got the big home run."

Atlanta starter John Smoltz (4-4) yielded four runs and six hits in seven innings for his first victory since May 6. He got just enough offense for a win after the Braves scored just five times for him in his last three starts.

Smoltz was preparing himself for another Braves loss before Betemit saved the day.

"I was hitting my boiling point," Smoltz said. "I was getting ready to snap. (But) hopefully this lifts us. We want to get on a streak."

Chris Reitsma allowed two hits in two scoreless innings for his second save.

Ryan Langerhans , who entered the contest with three hits in his last 32 at-bats, collected two for his first multi-hit game since May 11. He doubled in the eighth prior to Betemit's homer.

Atlanta beat Washington for just the third time in eight meetings this season and ended the Nationals' three-game winning streak. The Braves raised their record to 2-17 when trailing after seven innings.

Washington's Ryan Church , who is hitting .410 (25-for-61) in his last 20 outings, sparked a three-run second inning with an RBI double that plated Nick Johnson . Brian Schneider followed with a run-scoring double to score Church and break a 5-for-38 slump. He eventually came home on a wild pitch by Smoltz to give Washington a 3-1 edge.

The Nationals, who saw a four-game home losing streak end, are 11-7 in one-run games and are 5-3 against the Braves this season. Last year, the Montreal Expos beat the Braves just four times in 19 outings.

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