Darren Bragg, who entered the game after Gold Glove center
fielder Andruw Jones was overcome by the stifling heat, made a
brilliant catch in the seventh inning Saturday to preserve a 5-3
victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
"We're getting help from everywhere,'' said Maddux, who allowed
one earned run in 5 2/3 innings to bounce back from his first loss
in nearly three months. "The greatest center fielder who's ever
played the game comes out, and Braggsy goes out and makes a catch
that I'm not even sure Andruw would have made.''
The Phillies cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-2 and threatened again in
the seventh when the first two batters singled.
Tim Spooneybarger came in to pitch for the Braves, but Burrell
hit a drive to the wall in right-center that appeared certain to
bring home one run, maybe two.
Bragg drifted back, timed his leap perfectly and made the catch
just below the yellow line as he slammed into the padding.
"I was just hoping it didn't go out,'' Spooneybarger said. "I
was kind of frozen in time like everyone else, just waiting to see
what would happen, and he ended up bringing it back in the park.
That was awesome.''
Bragg's play was symbolic of the entire season for the Braves,
who have baseball's best record (67-37) and are cruising toward
their 11th straight division title. The team is getting
contributions from everyone -- even players such as Bragg, who was
released by the New York Mets in spring training.
"That's the key to a good team,'' Bragg said. "There's 25 guys
on the roster. We've been picking up guys all year and today I
picked up Andruw. That's why we're where we're at.''
Maddux (10-3) earned his 267th victory, snapping Philadelphia's
four-game winning streak and handing Joe Roa his first defeat of
the year at any level.
Maddux took over sole possession of 31st place on the career
list. He had been tied with Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey.
Chipper Jones, whose power numbers are way down this season, hit
a two-run homer in the third, knocking a hanging curve from Roa
into the Braves bullpen to give Maddux a four-run cushion.
Chipper Jones has only two homers in the past five weeks and 11
for the season, far below his average of 38 the last four years.
"I'm trying to downplay it as much as possible,'' he said.
"I'm more concerned with being a tough out and a .300 hitter. I
don't consider myself a 40-homer guy.''
Roa (0-1) made his first major league start since July 24, 1997.
He spent most of this season at Triple-A Scranton, where he went
14-0 with a 1.86 earned-run average.
Roa lasted only four innings, giving up six hits and four runs.
"It's been 26 starts since I lost at any level,'' he said. "It
would have been nice to win here and help this team. I'm looking
forward to my next start.''
Gary Sheffield gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead with a first-inning
double, extending his team record of reaching base to 52
Sheffield had another RBI in the eighth on a sacrifice fly after
the Phillies closed the gap to 4-3.
Maddux, whose seven-game winning streak ended in his previous
start, breezed through the first five innings and struck out the
first two hitters in the sixth. He didn't get another out, giving
up an RBI single to Travis Lee and leaving after an error by first
baseman Wes Helms.
The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes by rain, then began
in sweltering heat.
The Georgia humidity took its toll on plate umpire Mark
Hirschbeck, who already was feeling ill before the game. He had to
leave in the middle of the third inning.
"It's one of the hottest days I've ever seen here in Atlanta,''
Chipper Jones said. "I had to change my shirt three times because
it was soaking wet.''
Having split the first two games with the Phillies, the
Braves head into Sunday with a chance to extend their streak
without losing a series to 23 in a row. They are 18-0-4 since
dropping two of three games to the Dodgers in early May. ... Both
center fielders made diving catches in the first. Andruw Jones
snared a liner by Bobby Abreu to end the top half, then Doug
Glanville made a tumbling grab to rob Rafael Furcal of a hit in the