With five runs in the first and eleven after three, even some pretty horrible pitching from John Thomson couldn’t keep the Braves from winning — and possibly finding their way back into a first place tie.

The Braves jumped on top with four of the five first-inning runs coming on a grand slam by Eli Marrero. (Chipper tripled in Drew for the other.) The Expos crept back into it at 5-3 heading into the bottom of the third — and likely would have at least tied the game except Andruw threw two runners out at the plate — but the Braves bust open with six more runs, highlighted by Chipper’s two-run homer. From then on it was basically spring training, the Braves emptying their bench and utilizing the back of the pen.

Thomson was mildly horrible, but still gets the win. He allowed eight hits in only five innings of work, including one homer. At least he didn’t walk many. Gryboski, Cruz, McConnell, and Drew finished the game, Gryboski of course allowing a run and Drew allowing an unearned one.

Chipper had a real shot at hitting for the cycle after the homer and triple. He later singled, but with the bases loaded in the seventh the Montreal pitcher walked him. That has to be annoying. All the starters except for Andruw had at least one RBI, and all but Marcus (who did have a walk) had at least one hit.

The Phillies are losing late. If things hold up, the two teams will be tied headed into this two-game series starting tomorrow. Scheduled starters are Paul Abbott versus Hampton and Eric Milton versus Wright.