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Furcal's three-run shot ignites Atlanta

6/23/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves didn't wait around until their
final at-bat to win this one.

Rafael Furcal's three-run homer capped a seven-run fourth inning
and the Braves went on to their highest-scoring game of the year, a
15-2 rout of the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.

The two previous nights, Atlanta won in its final at-bat. This
time, there was no suspense.

"No offense is going to score 15 runs on a daily basis, but on
any given day we're capable of doing that,'' Gary Sheffield said.
"We got contributions all through the lineup.''

The top four hitters in the Braves order -- Furcal, Julio Franco,
Sheffield and Chipper Jones -- were a combined 10-for-16 with nine
RBI. Jones drove in four runs with a pair of doubles, while Javy
Lopez added three hits and two RBI.

The Braves outhit the White Sox 18-4.

"Sooner or later, it's going to happen,'' Sheffield said.
"We've been hanging in there pretty well, getting some big hits
when we need it. But when we all do it as one, this is a very
dangerous lineup.''

The Braves weren't very dangerous in their previous eight games,
scoring just 20 runs. Still, they managed to win six times because
of timely hitting and baseball's best pitching staff.

Atlanta has won 14 of 17 games and posted a 26-8 record since
May 15, the best mark in baseball during that span.

Damian Moss (4-2) allowed only two hits in six innings as the
Braves improved their interleague record to 11-3 this season.

The Braves pounded three relievers for eight runs in their final
two at-bats, pushing them past the previous season high in a 13-7
victory over Texas on May 7.

Moss started that game, but didn't pitch long enough to earn a
win. He didn't want to make the same mistake again.

"I told myself it was a one-run game,'' he said. "The last
time, I relaxed a little bit. You've got to learn your lesson. I
think I learned it.''

Before the game, both teams stood in front of their dugouts and
observed a moment of silence for St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile, who
was found dead in a Chicago hotel earlier Saturday. The Cardinals
flag, which flies in right field alongside the banners of other NL
teams, was at half-staff.

"We felt horrible about it,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
"Sure, it affected us. We wanted to have a moment of silence and
we did.''

Paul Konerko had a pair of homers to account for both White Sox
runs. He hit the 100th of his career in the eighth against Kerry
Ligtenberg.

Not that it mattered.

"Tonight was an absolute pounding,'' Konerko said. "We just
need to forget about this one and start again from scratch.''

Gary Glover (2-3), returning to Chicago's rotation after a brief
stint in the bullpen, breezed through the first three innings,
allowing just one hit. It all fell apart in the fourth, when the
Braves broke open a scoreless game just as a brief rainstorm sent
fans scurrying for cover.

Franco led off with a single, Sheffield walked and Chipper Jones
drove a two-run double to the gap in left-center.

Andruw Jones popped out, but third baseman Tony Graffanino
allowed Vinny Castilla's routine grounder to skid right between his
legs for an error that brought home another run.

Lopez followed with a single that knocked Glover out of the
game. Rocky Biddle didn't fare any better, however, giving up an
RBI double to Keith Lockhart that made it 4-0.

Moss struck out, then Furcal capped the scoring with a 372-foot
drive into the right-field stands for his third homer of the year.
The Braves matched their biggest inning of the season.

Furcal has shown a wide array of talents the last two games. On
Friday, the speedy shortstop drove in the winning run with a bunt
single.

The White Sox dropped five games behind Minnesota in the AL
Central. They have scored just four runs in two days at Turner
Field.

"We've got to apply pressure offensively, rather than waiting
on a good pitching effort,'' manager Jerry Manuel said. "We're
supposed to be a good offensive club."

Moss followed his normal routine, giving up just the two hits
but also walking five and throwing 104 pitches before he was lifted
for a pinch-hitter.

The Aussie left-hander entered the game holding hitters to a
.206 average -- lowest in the NL -- but giving up 4.5 walks per game.

Konerko hit his first homer in the sixth. He wound up with the
fourth two-homer game of his career -- three of them coming in the
last 11 days.

Konerko wasn't too impressed about reaching No. 100.

"It just means I put together two or three decent years,'' he
said. "It's not that big a deal.''

Game notes
The Braves finished one short of their season high for
hits, just one night after they managed only three. ... Former
White Sox closer Keith Foulke pitched two scoreless innings after
the Braves built a 7-0 lead. ... A crowd of 47,276 was the fourth
sellout of the season at Turner Field.