Eureka! In the top of the ninth, lightning seemingly struck the Braves: you can score more runs even when you’re ahead! After all those games these last few weeks when the Braves took a 2-0 lead in the first — as they did today — only to lose when they didn’t score any more and their pitchers couldn’t hold a narrow lead, they got three in the ninth to add some comfort.
They didn’t need much, because Russ Ortiz and John Smoltz kept the Orioles off the board. Ortiz went seven innings, came out (over 100 pitches at the time) to start the eighth, only to give way to Smoltz after walking the leadoff man. Yes, Smoltz got the elusive two-inning save. He gave up a hit to the first man he faced, but got a popup from Palmeiro and a DP from Lopez (hi, Javy!) to get out of that. And he gave up two hits in the ninth, but got out of that too. Can you say showcase for a trade?
The offensive stars were Charles Thomas and Eli Marrero, who each doubled twice, including back-to-back in the ninth to drive the insurance inning. Estrada also doubled in the inning, getting it going but Garcia pinch-ran for him. Julio drove him in, then stole second and scored the fourth run of the game.
Matt Riley, who starts for the Orioles tomorrow (against Jaret Wright, who I guess is the staff ace now) has an 8.56 ERA. I’m not going to say it.