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Maddux, Braves Scalp Mets


Greg Maddux showed how everyone wants to pitch. Matt Franco showed how they don't want to.

For five innings, it looked as if Maddux could get his first no-hitter. Instead, the game turned into a historic laugher as Franco, normally an infielder or outfielder, made the first pitching appearance of his career.

"It was a breather. Almost like an off-day," Maddux said after allowing just two hits in six shutout innings of the Atlanta Braves' 16-0 rout of the New York Mets on Friday night.

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  • Chipper Jones hit a pair of two-run homers, Eddie Perez and Gerald Williams hit three-run drives and Ryan Klesko added a solo shot for the Braves, who hit like it was batting practice and sent the Mets to their worst shutout loss ever.

    The Braves matched their biggest shutout win this century, 16-0 over Brooklyn on May 7, 1918, and against Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, 1952.

    It got so bad for the Mets that closer John Franco couldn't get out of the ninth inning, issuing consecutive two-out walks while down 13-0.

    At that point, the left-hander felt a strained tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, starter Rick Reed entered to play right field and Matt Franco moved from third base to the mound.

    Williams then homered, and Otis Nixon tripled before Franco struck out Andruw Jones.

    "If I ever get to pitch again, it's probably a not a good thing," said Matt Franco, who forgot to ask for the ball that he fanned Jones with.

    John Franco's finger will be re-evaluated Saturday.

    Once the game was 10-0, Mets manager Bobby Valentine told Matt Franco to be ready for his major league mound debut. His last mound appearance was for Triple-A Iowa six years ago.

    "Well, that was interesting, wasn't it?" Valentine said. "Matty is one of our better athletes."

    Maddux (8-5), given an 8-0 lead by the third inning, didn't give up a hit until Luis Lopez's one-out single in the fifth.

    In his last four starts, Maddux has allowed two earned runs in 27 2-3 innings, dropping his ERA from 4.64 to 3.66. He's gotte hot at the same time as teammate Tom Glavine, who's won four straight decisions and lowered his ERA from 5.54 to 4.25.

    "It was just a matter of time," Chipper Jones said. "Maddux and Glavine have been doing this forever. The last three starts have been like the old Greg Maddux."

    His worst stretch was in the first inning, when he gave Roger Cedeno and John Olerud his first back-to-back walks in 44 starts since May 1, 1998, when he put on San Francisco's Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.

    "I'm wild now," Maddux joked.

    Russ Springer and John Hudek finished the three-hitter for Atlanta, which has won six of its last seven games against the Mets and 12 of its last 16.

    Chipper Jones raised his home-run total to 16 with drives off Masato Yoshii (6-7) in the first and Pat Mahomes in the fourth. It was Jones' second multihomer game of the season, the eighth of his career.

    New York, trailing Atlanta by just three games in the NL East coming in, wants to show it narrowed the talent gap with the Braves, who have won seven straight division titles.

    But a fireworks' night crowd of 51,979, the first sellout at Shea Stadium since the home opener, booed from nearly start to finish. There were so many early substitutions 36 players appeared in all that it resembled spring training more than the Fourth of July weekend.

    Maddux quieted the big crowd quickly. He's won five consecutive starts against the Mets, allowing five earned runs in 33 innings, a 1.36 ERA.

    Yoshii, 0-4 against the Braves in his career, was pounded for a career-high eight runs and seven hits in three innings, raising his ERA to 5.16.

    Jones' first homer and Andruw Jones' RBI single gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead in the first, and the Braves made it 8-0 in the third on Brian Jordan's RBI single, Klesko's run-scoring double and Perez's second home run of the season.

    "My right knee was bothering me," Yoshii said through a translator, "and that was the cause for the loss."

    Notes:

  • The Braves' biggest shutout win ever was 18-0 over Buffalo on Oct. 3, 1885.
  • The only other position player to pitch for the Mets was Bill Pecota in a 19-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Sept. 26, 1992.
  • The Mets' previous worst shutout loss was 14-0 against Detroit on June 30, 1997. The Braves' largest shutout win since moving to Atlanta had been 15-0 against Pittsburgh on Aug. 14, 1992.
  • Walt Weiss made an outstanding diving stop and flip to start a double play on Matt Franco's sixth-inning grounder to shortstop.

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

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