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Braves Pound The Expos

Expos Pete Bergeron slides for a stolen base under the glove of Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal.
AP
Javier Lopez hit a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves had 21 hits as they routed the Montreal Expos 14-5 Sunday and lowered their magic number for clinching the NL East to four.

Andy Ashby (12-12) won his fourth straight start as the Braves, seeking their ninth straight division title, set season highs for runs and hits and maintained a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place Mets.

After Monday's series finale, the Braves go to New York for a three-game series. Any combination of Atlanta wins and Mets losses totaling four would clinch the division for the Braves.

Andruw Jones hit a three-run double and triple, and Keith Lockhart went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Chipper Jones was 3-for-4 and Reggie Sanders was 3-for-5 with a two-run double.

Ashby (12-12) allowed five runs and nine hits in eight innings, improving to 8-5 since Atlanta acquired him from Philadelphia on July 12. John Rocker, booed loudly when he entered the game, faced two batters in the ninth, striking out one and allowing a single to another.

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Game Summary

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  • Mike Thurman (4-8) lost his fourth straight decision, giving up six runs and eight hits in five innings.

    Andruw Jones tripled in the first and scored on Chipper Jones' sacrifice fly.

    Montreal took a 3-1 lead in the bottom half on RBI doubles by Andy Tracy and Jose Vidro, and Wilton Guerrero's run-scoring single.

    But Atlanta came right back in the second and took a 6-3 lead on Keith Lockhart's two-run single and Andruw Jones' three-run double, which gave him 99 RBIs.

    Rafael Furcal homered in the sixth, his fourth of the season, to make it 7-3, and the Braves tacked on three runs in the seventh, when Sanders hit a two-run double and Lockhart blooped an RBI double in front of Guerrero in left.

    Montreal closed to 10-5 in the bottom half on Michael Barrett's RBI single and Peter Bergeron's run-scoring grounder.

    Lopez hit a three-run homer in the eighth off Steve Kline, and Andres Galarraga added a run-scoring single in the ninth.

    Notes

  • The Braves beat Houston 13-5 on July 29. Atlanta had 17 hits twice this season, most recently on July 2 at the Mets.
  • The Expos are assured of falling short of 1,000,000 fans at home for the third straight season, and sixth time in the franchise's 32-year history. The game drew 11,350, raising Montreal's home attendance to 919,332 with one game remaining at Olympic Stadium.
  • Vidro has 49 doubles, five short of the Expos' record set by Mark Grudzielanek in 1997.

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