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Braves Take Over First Place


Chipper Jones sounded almost apologetic after reaching the 30-homer mark for the third time in his five major league seasons.

"I don't ever try to hit them," Jones said Friday night after his two homers led the Atlanta Braves to a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and extended his home run streak to three games.

"You've just got to pick out the right pitch," Jones said. "And right now, when I get the pitch that I'm looking for, I'm not missing. That's the key. When pitchers make mistakes, you've got to make them pay for it."

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Game Summary

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  • The Braves coupled their fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games with the New York Mets' loss at San Francisco to take a one-game lead in the NL East.

    Jones hit a solo homer to the opposite field in the first inning and a two-run shot in the seventh against Darren Dreifort (9-12), giving him 31 for the season and 17 in his last 36 games.

    "He's not swinging for the fences," manager Bobby Cox insisted. "He's raised his average to about .320, and he's just meeting the ball, really. You'll never see Chipper overswing."

    Gerald Williams keyed a four-run fourth inning with a two-run single, one of two hits that extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

    "Gerald's been a spark for us," Cox said. "He's been getting on base, hitting the long ball and doing a little bit of everything. He played more than we probably thought he would last year, and he's getting a lot of at-bats this year. He's not just a platoon guy."

    Kevin Millwood (13-7) allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits in eight innings. Te right-hander struck out nine before giving way to Rudy Seanez in the ninth.

    "I usually like to establish my fastball early, but lately I've been getting hurt with it," Millwood said. "So I tried to mix my pitches up a little bit more early in the game hoping that maybe my fastball would be effective later on."

    Andruw Jones led off the fourth with a single, stole second and scored on Greg Myers' single. Millwood followed Jose Hernandez's single with a sacrifice bunt that put both runners in scoring position and Williams drove them in with a single. Boone followed with an RBI double for a 5-2 advantage.

    The Dodgers loaded the bases their next time up on two walks and a single by Mark Grudzielanek. But Eric Karros, who hit his first career grand slam on Wednesday at Montreal and had 15 RBIs in his previous five games, grounded into a force play.

    "I faced (Gary) Sheffield right before that and I had him 3-1, so I wasn't going to groove a fastball and give him a chance to tie the ballgame," Millwood said. "I'd rather face Karros with a new count than throw Sheffield a 3-1 fastball down the middle."

    Adrian Beltre hit a solo homer in the second inning and had an RBI groundout in the ninth for the Dodgers.

    Dreifort pitched six-plus innings and was charged with seven runs and 12 hits both season highs. He is 1-6 lifetime against the Braves, allowing 27 earned runs in 35 innings.

    Raul Mondesi played his first home game since Wednesday's profanity-laced tirade against manager Davey Johnson and GM Kevin Malone in Montreal, and was booed incessantly by the crowd of 40,363 every time he came to the plate. He was 1-for-4.

    In Thursday's episode of this continuing soap opera, the Dodgers' publicity mill released a contrite statement that allegedly came from Mondesi. But no one familiar with Mondesi's behavior in the past believed the words were actually his. Friday, Mondesi wisely declined all interview requests.

    "I think he's very immature. There's no question in my mind," Johnson said. "But as unfortunate as this situation is, I can put it behind me. I'm a big enough person not to hold it against him and let him learn something from this experience."

    Notes

  • Dodgers 2B Eric Young was activated from the DL after being sidelined for 18 games with a sprained left ankle. To make room, RHP Matt Herges was optioned to Triple-Albuquerque.
  • Millwood has allowed a team-high 18 home runs and seven in his last four starts, including four on Aug. 3 at Pittsburgh.
  • Mondesi, who had 18 home runs through May 28, has hit only six since then.
  • The Braves will play the Mets six times in their last 12 games.
  • Chipper Jones homered twice in a game for the 10th time in his career and fourth time this season. He also reached base safely in his 38th consecutive game, extending his own club record.
  • Williams' hitting streak is a season best for the Braves, one more than Boone's streak from April 27 through May 1.

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

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