Smoltz, two relievers combine on four-hitter
MILWAUKEE (Ticker) --
may no longer be the
' closer, but he still is thriving as the team's stopper.
Smoltz allowed three hits in seven innings and rookie
snapped a fifth-inning tie with an RBI single as the Braves posted an 8-4 victory over the
After saving 154 games for the Braves from 2001-04, Smoltz has enjoyed success in his return to the rotation, leading Atlanta in wins (13), starts (28), ERA (2.96) and strikeouts (149).
Following the Braves' 3-1 setback in Friday's series opener, the righthander was put in a spot in which he has been especially effective as he improved to 9-1 in 13 starts after an Atlanta loss.
The Brewers had Smoltz (13-6) on the ropes early, getting two-run homers from
to build a 4-2 lead after four innings.
Smoltz allowed just two baserunners thereafter and retired the final nine he faced. The 38-year-old All-Star struck out eight en route to his first win in four starts.
"How the (heck) did I give up these home runs?," Smoltz said. "Billy Hall's home run was unbeleivable to me. In this park, if you hit the ball in the right place, it's out of here.
"I tried to early to pitch like it was a playoff game. We needed the win and I knew if I kept it close I would have a chance."
also credited Smoltz. "He pitched well, got a hit and had to run, ha ha," Cox said.
Making his first start in over two years,
to begin the fifth before giving way to
(4-13), who yielded a double by
and a two-run base hit by
that tied the game at 4-4.
Three batters later, Francoeur singled to center on an 0-1 pitch to put Atlanta ahead for good.
"We were behind the eight-ball in the beginnig but the bat's responded," Jones said. "Smoltz broke his neck to keep us in the ballgame until we got him support."
Helling allowed three runs and four hits in four-plus innings, throwing half of his 82 pitches for strikes.
"My offspeed pitches were OK, but I didn't have a good fastball tonight," Helling said. "For me that's my power and tonight it just wasn't there. The walks led to a high pitch count and more than four ups per inning."
"He did a nice job," Brewers manager
said. "We were hopeful to try to get through five innings, he had trouble with the pitch count and trying to keep his fastball down. He threw well, the bullpen gave us nothing."
Jones, Francoeur and
had three hits apiece for the Braves, who extended their lead in the National League East Division to 3 1/2 games over Philadelphia.