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Smoltz Gets No Support In Loss

John Smoltz pitched well and lost Wednesday. He would have been much happier with a poor outing and a cheap win.

Smoltz remained winless in six starts since June 18 as the Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of second baseman Bret Boone's throwing error to beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2.

"We have to get some wins, anyway, anyhow," said Smoltz (8-5). "It doesn't matter if I pitch well and we lose. I'd rather pitch bad and have us win the game. This is frustrating."

Smoltz, 0-3 during the drought, was on the disabled list from July 5-24 because of a strained right elbow. He allowed one earned run and five hits in seven innings, but Boone's wild throw on a possible double-play ball in the third set up two unearned runs.

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Game Summary

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  • "There are two ways to play that," Boone said. "You can lay back and get one safe out at first or you can be aggressive and try to get two. I approach it aggressively and I'll approach it the same way if the same situation comes up tomorrow."

    Todd Ritchie (10-7) gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings. He has won three of his last four decisions and leads the Pirates' staff in wins.

    "He's not a surprise any more," Pirates manager Gene Lamont said. "He's proven himself to be a quality major league pitcher."

    Mike Williams pitched the ninth for his 16th save.

    Williams got a big assist from shortstop Abraham Nunez, who made a spectacular play to throw out Boone to start the ninth. Nunez went into the hole to grab the ball, scrambled to hi feet and threw to first to get Boone, who made a headfirst dive for the bag.

    "That was very important," Lamont said. "If that gets by for a hit, who knows what happens in that inning?"

    The strong pitching by the two teams led to an elapsed game time of just 1 hour, 48 minutes.

    "I knew it was quick but I didn't know it was that quick," Ritchie said.

    Braves manager Bobby Cox sat out the first game of his two-game suspension, imposed by the NL for excessive arguing. Bench coach Pat Corrales ran the club in his absence.

    Al Martin singled and later scored on Kevin Young's sacrifice fly in the first to open the scoring and give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

    Ritchie singled to open the third and Martin hit a grounder to Boone, who threw the ball into left field. Nunez bunted home a run and Brian Giles followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

    Young's throwing error at first base helped the Braves score in the fourth. Brian Jordan doubled and Young threw wildly on Ryan Klesko's infield single, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

    Greg Myers led off the Braves' fifth with his fifth home run to complete the scoring.


  • Jose Hernandez batted first and played shortstop, his first start since he joined the Braves in a trade from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. He hit into two double plays
  • The Pirates have hit five home runs in a game three times this season, most recently in Tuesday's 7-1 win against the Braves. Before this spurt, the team had hit five homers in a game just three times in 2,702 games between June 3, 1979, and May 2 of this year.
  • After leaving no runners on base in Tuesday's game, the Pirates stranded one on Wednesday. That sets a National League record for the fewest runners left on base in two games and ties the major league record. The New York Yankees stranded one in games on Sept. 21 and 22, 1982, and the Detroit Tigers matched that on May 3 and 4, 1996.

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