Series: Game 2 of 3

Atlanta leads 2-0 (as of 4/16)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 15
in 10
Game 2: Wednesday, April 16
Game 3: Thursday, April 17
in 10

Braves 3

(7-8, 4-4 away)

Expos 2

(9-6, 4-2 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 16, 2003

    Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 000101010 3 11 0
    MON 000000020 2 7 0

    W: H. Ramirez (2-2)

    L: T. Ohka (1-2)

    S: J. Smoltz (5)

    Ramirez follows Reynolds with sharp outing

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- For many years, Horacio Ramirez saw Atlanta win games with outstanding pitching. Now, the rookie is doing his part.

    Ramirez shut out Montreal until the eighth inning and Gary Sheffield hit another "jonron,'' leading the revived Braves over the Expos 3-2 Wednesday night.

    Swept at home by Montreal in a three-game series to start the season, Atlanta is rapidly getting even with the Expos in Puerto Rico. And the Braves are doing it in familiar fashion, albeit with a reconfigured rotation.

    "I watched those guys on TV for so long, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz and Tom Glavine,'' said Ramirez, who spent the last six seasons in the minors. "Sometimes, it doesn't feel like I'm part of the team because you were so used to those guys being here together.

    "It's odd, but I'm real happy with how it's going,'' he said.

    A night after newcomer Shane Reynolds and the Braves' bullpen held the Expos to one run in 10 innings, Ramirez (2-2) was exceptional.

    The 23-year-old left-hander blanked the Expos until Ron Calloway's two-run homer in the eighth, beating the team that defeated him two weeks ago in his major league debut.

    Ramirez walked none and struck out five, not bad for a guy who had never pitched above Double-A before this year. And it was welcome sight for a club that started this week last in the NL in ERA.

    "We're going to get good pitching,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We have it, it's going to come. We'll get our rotation going, it'll be good.''

    Andruw Jones doubled, singled twice and drove in two runs, and Sheffield homered for the second straight day. Atlanta matched its longest winning streak of the season at just two and did it with star Chipper Jones out of the starting lineup because of a sprained left groin.

    Tomo Ohka (1-2) took the loss.

    The Expos had won five in a row, including four straight in their part-time home, before running into Atlanta's stepped-up pitching.

    "In games like this, you've got to take advantage of the opportunities,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "We're not getting that big hit when we need it, which we were doing earlier.''

    A spirited crowd of 15,571 swayed to salsa music during batting practice, and Ramirez kept the numerous Braves fans happy until late in the game.

    Hit hard in a loss at Florida last week, Ramirez set a quick tempo on the mound, and ran back and forth for each inning. He was in trouble only once, when Jose Macias and Jose Vidro led off the bottom of the first with singles.

    At that point, pitching coach Leo Mazzone made a slow, long walk to Ramirez -- the dugouts at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and set back maybe 60 feet farther than at all other major league stadiums -- and offered an encouraging word. It worked, too, as Ramirez retired Vladimir Guerrero on a popup and got Wil Cordero to ground into a double play.

    Mazzone told Ramirez to "attack'' and start using all of his pitches, especially his slider.

    "He gets half the 'W' today,'' Ramirez said.

    Ramirez gave up four singles before Fernando Tatis singled for his third hit to open the eighth. Calloway followed with his first major league homer, and Roberto Hernandez relieved.

    Hernandez finished the eighth and Smoltz pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.

    Sheffield hit his fourth home run of the year. The Atlanta slugger led off the fourth with a drive over the left-field bleachers that were built for the Expos' 22 games in San Juan this season.

    The previous night, Sheffield hit a tying home run -- they are called either a "jonron'' or ``cuadrangular'' in Spanish -- in the ninth.

    Rafael Furcal tripled and scored on Andruw Jones' single in the sixth, and Andruw Jones hit an RBI double in the eighth for a 3-0 lead.

    Game notes

    Chipper Jones flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. ... Guerrero will donate 100 tickets to fans from his home country of the Dominican Republic for each of the Expos' three Sunday games in Puerto Rico. The tickets will help create ``La Esquina de Vladimir'' -- his own rooting corner behind him in right field -- for games against Cincinnati, Texas and Florida. ... Guerrero is 4-for-20 in the games at Puerto Rico. ... Atlanta C Javy Lopez, so popular in his homeland that he needed 80 tickets for Tuesday night's game, went 0-for-4 for the second straight day.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press