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Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Marlins end Smoltz’s outing early

Grand slam by Encarnacion big blast in Florida’s 9-0 victory over Braves

April 6, 2005

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— The season only was in the second inning when John Smoltz called it a day, fans taunting him with tomahawk chops as he trudged to the dugout, his first start in nearly four years a big bust.

Smoltz lasted just five outs, giving up a grand slam to Juan Encarnacion that capped a five-run first inning, and Carlos Delgado had four hits in his Florida Marlins debut to help beat Atlanta, 9-0, Tuesday.

Making the transition from All-Star closer back to the rotation, Smoltz threw 65 pitches and allowed seven runs, six of them earned and all scoring with two outs. A Marlins record crowd of 57,405 jeered when he departed.

"It's the worst feeling in the world," Smoltz said. "Obviously I wouldn't have thought this was possible. It's numbing. You want a mulligan."

By pitching 12/3 innings, the former Cy Young Award winner matched his shortest outing as a starter. It happened three other times, most recently May 3, 1994, also against Florida.

Smoltz said he threw only two bad pitches, one of them a high fastball to Encarnacion. But he'll go into his second start Sunday with an earned-run average of 32.40.

"If I focused on my ERA right now, I'd be an idiot," Smoltz said. "I'm disappointed with the results, but not the way I threw."

Delgado swung at all three pitches in his first at-bat and missed -- Smoltz's lone strikeout. He had three singles and a double after that, finishing 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Josh Beckett, starting on opening day for the third year in a row, earned the victory for the first time. He allowed two hits in six innings, and three relievers completed a five-hitter.

"We'll take nine runs every day," Beckett said.

Mike Lowell had a pivotal at-bat in the first-inning rally, contributed two RBI singles and made a diving stop at third base to save a run.

In addition to the drubbing, the Braves lost two starters to injuries. Catcher Johnny Estrada left in the fifth inning after a foul ball bruised his right hand, and second baseman Marcus Giles departed in the sixth because of a jammed left knee.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 4

Phoenix -- Luis Gonzalez homered twice, his eighth and ninth career shots off Greg Maddux, and drove in three runs to lead Arizona over Chicago. Russ Ortiz, who signed an eyebrow-raising four-year, $33 million free-agent contract with Arizona, allowed three runs on six hits in five innings to get the victory. He also singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth.

Cardinals 7, Astros 3

Houston -- Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders homered to lead St. Louis over Houston in a season-opening rematch of the 2004 NL championship series. The Cardinals went ahead 3-0 in the first and never trailed, ending Houston's 18-game, regular-season home winning streak, the longest in the major leagues since Cleveland won 18 in a row in May and June 1994 at Jacobs Field.

Giants 4, Dodgers 2

San Francisco -- Ray Durham scored the go-ahead run on Jose Valentin's seventh-inning error at third, and Jason Schmidt struck out nine in seven strong innings to lead San Francisco.

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