Chipper Jones picked the right time to get his one hit in the series opener against San Francisco. With all three of the teams ahead of the Braves in the East and Wild Card picking up a win, the Braves got exactly what they needed to keep the gap to a minimum and improve to seven games over .500 on the season. The middle of the lineup carried a lot of the offensive load against Giants starter Kevin Correia, but Yunel Escobar had the best day at the plate batting out of the eighth spot. Chipper, Tex, and McCann had five hits in thirteen at bats including Teixeira's fifth Braves home run but Escobar went four-for-four on the day with a two-run game-tying double in the sixth inning. The lead going into the ninth was erased and the top of the lineup found themselves in a tie game. Willie Harris got on with a walk then Kelly Johnson sacrificed him over and reached on an error by Steve Kline. Randy Messenger was then brought in to face Chipper Jones and on a 3-1 count, Chipper lined a double out to left-center to chase home Harris, the winning run.
The Braves came in with a severe advantage in the pitching match-up, but John Smoltz got knocked around early. The veteran right-hander gave up three over the first three innings, but dialed in for the next three, finishing with six innings of three-run baseball. Smoltz allowed six hits and three walks while striking out four on the day. Ron Mahay relieved Smoltz with a perfect inning and then passed the game on to Rafael Soriano who allowed a hit mixed in with two strikeouts in his scoreless inning. Then came in big Bob. Wickman, not at all helped by a shrinking strike zone, allowed a triple with one out and then a single with the infield drawn in. Yunel Escobar made a great diving play to stop the run from scoring but threw home too early on a mental error when he could have started a run down between third and home. After an intentional walk to Ray Durham, Randy Winn grounded out to bring in the tying run. Wickman allowed his first run at home, blew his sixth save, and picked up the win.
Tim Hudson will head to the mound tomorrow at 7:35 ET to try and secure the series win against former-Braves Russ Ortiz. Another note in the game, Bobby Cox was ejected in the sixth for arguing a third strike call against Chipper Jones and now holds the all-time ejections record to himself, passing John McGraw with his 132nd career ejection. Good job Bobby!