Braves Clinch NL East


The Atlanta Braves' champagne celebration was as sweet as ever. And it didn't take long to get underway.

John Smoltz won for the first time in more than a month and Atlanta clinched its eighth straight division title with a 10-0 win over the Montreal Expos on Sunday.

"They're all good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We're not tired of winning these things at all. This year everybody thought it was going to be more of a struggle I guess, and maybe it was."

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Game Summary

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  • Atlanta's seventh straight win, coupled with the New York Mets' 3-2 loss at Philadelphia, wrapped up the NL East for the Braves with one week left in the season.

    "We played awfully good baseball and pretty consistently all season long," Cox said. "So we've taken a step toward our goal again and hopefully we'll be in the World Series and win one again."

    The celebration began as the Braves learned of the Mets' loss as they were leaving the field to return to their clubhouse.

    "This is worth celebrating because of all the obstacles and adversity we've had to overcome all year," said a champagne-soaked Brian Jordan, whose two-run single off Jeremy Powell (3-8) sparked a five-run first-inning outburst.

    "To be in this position now is great to have an opportunity to win 100 games," Jordan said. "I don't believe anybody, once Javy Lopez got hurt, believed that we could do it. But we all believed in ourselves and things came together for us and we're just overjoyed right now."

    Eddie Perez's three-run double capped the inning and Smoltz (10-8) did the rest from there. Perez added a solo homer in the eighth to make it 9-0.

    "What a great way to do it, especially with Smoltz," Jordan said. "We haven't been scoring runs for him and he's been pitching great, pitching through injury. To go out and win the game 10-0, it's great and then watch the Mets lose was a wonderful feeling."

    Smoltz allowed six hits in eight innings to win for the first time since Aug. 24 against Cincinnati. Smoltz, who was 1-6 in his previous 15 starts, went 2-for-3 with a double and was also hit by a pitch.

    "It just seemed like a year where if anything could happen, it would happen," Smoltz said. "Today is the most fun I've had in a long time."

    Expos manager Felipe Alou commended the Braves on their championship effort.

    "I think they won (the division) in Atlanta when they swept the Mets," Alou said. "The Mets had a great opportunity, but that's a Braves team as good as any Braves team."

    Gerald Williams went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, his 16th, in the sixth inning.

    Williams led off the game with a single and was caught stealing by Powell. Keith Lockhart then singled, Chipper Jones walked and Ryan Klesko singled to load the bases.

    Jordan followed with a two-run single to make it 2-0. Andruw Jones walked and Perez hit a one-hop double to the wall in right-center to clear the bases.

    Powell allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.

    The Expos had baserunners in each of the first seven innings but none advanced past second base, including Michael Barrett and Vladimir Guerrero who doubled off Smoltz in the second and fourth, respectively.

    Notes

  • Atlanta has won the NL East from 1995-99 and the NL West in 1969, 1982, and 1991-93. The Braves were in second place when the players' strike ended the 1994 season.
  • The Braves need just one more win in their final six games to become the fourth team in major league history along with the 1929-31 Philadelphia Athletics, 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals, and 1969-71 Baltimore Orioles to win at least 100 games in three straight seasons.
  • Perez's four RBIs tied a career best for the third time. He last drove in four on Aug. 16 at Colorado.
  • X-rays determined that Atlanta pitcher Evrett Stull suffered a broken bone over his right eye when he was struck by a foul by Ryan Klesko on Saturday night while sitting in the Braves' dugout. Stull flew to Atlanta for treatment.
  • Alou remains one win shy of his 600th career managerial win. Alou has posted a 599-588 record since he was hired by Montreal on May 22, 1992.
  • The Expos' 307 doubles lead the NL.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
    • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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