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Hampton struggles with control in loss

4/19/2003

ATLANTA (AP) -- Vicente Padilla wasn't trying to fool anyone.

Here's a fastball. Try to hit it.

The Atlanta Braves couldn't.

Padilla pitched a four-hitter for his second career shutout,
leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 victory Saturday night
that stopped Atlanta's five-game winning streak.

Padilla's dominating performance overshadowed Mike Hampton, who
struggled in his Braves debut. Coming off the disabled list,
Hampton gave up all four runs during his five-inning stint.

One run was too many against Padilla.

"About 85 percent of his pitches were fastballs," said
Atlanta's Marcus Giles, who went hitless in three at-bats. "He was
saying, 'Here it is, hit it.' And we weren't hitting it."

Matt Franco couldn't figure out the Phillies pitcher, either.

"I kept thinking I was going to bust this guy," said Franco,
who did have one of Atlanta's infrequent hits. "I kept getting
good fastballs to hit. I thought I was going to hit them hard. I
guess he has late life on his ball. That's the only way to describe
it."

Padilla (3-1) picked up his second career shutout, facing only
three hitters above the minimum. He allowed four singles, with one
of the runners erased on a double play.

Gary Sheffield was the only Atlanta hitter to get past first
base -- and he needed help. The slugger dribbled a grounder about 20
feet in front of home plate, but catcher Mike Lieberthal's
off-balance throw sailed past first.

Sheffield was given credit for a hit and took second on the
throwing error. He moved to third on a grounder, but that was as
far as he got.

Padilla threw 107 pitches, 82 for strikes. He started out 23 of
30 hitters with strikes, and didn't throw more than five balls in
any inning.

"By the fourth inning, I started to feel good," Padilla said
through an interpreter. "This one was very special. I don't think
I ever got ahead as much as I did tonight."

Padilla beat the Braves for the second time in 10 days. On April
9, the right-hander went seven innings in a 16-2 blowout at
Veterans Stadium.

This time, Padilla threw only a few curves and didn't even
bother with his changeup.

"You don't need it when you're throwing 94 on the black,"
pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said.

Hampton was pitching for the first time this season, having
injured his right calf on a treadmill just three days before the
opener.

The left-hander is trying to bounce back from two dismal seasons
in Colorado, where he went 21-28 with a 5.75 ERA after signing a
$121 million, eight-year contract before the 2001 season.

Last year, Hampton had a 6.15 ERA -- the highest in baseball
among qualifying starters. The Braves acquired the former 20-game
winner in a three-team trade, believing he would return to form
away from Coors Field.

For now, he's a work in progress. Hampton struggled with his
control, walking four (one intentionally) and throwing two wild
pitches that led to runs. Of his 85 pitches, only 47 were strikes.

"I definitely have some work to do," Hampton said. "I'm not
pleased by any means with how I threw. But it's something to work
with. I'll be better next time."

Hampton breezed through the first two innings, giving up a walk
and a single. But a lack of control cost him two runs in the third.

With one out, Jimmy Rollins walked and took second on David
Bell's single. The runners moved up when Hampton threw a wild
pitch, then Rollins trotted home when another pitch went all the
way to the screen. Bell took third and scored on Bobby Abreu's deep
fly to left.

"I was trying to keep it down," Hampton said. "I was a little
off in my location. But I'd rather miss down than be up and have
them hit it a long way."

In the fifth, Rollins led off with a walk and came around to
score when Bell doubled to the wall in left-center. Mike Lieberthal
made it 4-0 with an RBI single.

Hampton escaped further trouble with the help his defense.
Lieberthal was thrown out at third by Gary Sheffield when he tried
to take an extra base on Jim Thome's single.

Thome was erased trying to steal second on another strong throw
by Henry Blanco.

Game notes
The Phillies activated Brandon
Duckworth from the disabled list to make his first start of the
season Sunday against the Braves. Right-hander Eric Junge was optioned to Triple-A
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, clearing room for Duckworth on
the 25-man roster. ... Padilla's other shutout came last May 10 vs. Arizona. That
also was his only complete game until Saturday. ... To make room
for Hampton on the roster, the Braves optioned RHP Jason Marquis to
Triple-A Richmond. ... Braves C Javy Lopez left in the second
inning after straining his left hamstring running out a grounder.
He is likely to miss three or four days, so the Braves called up C
Johnny Estrada after the game. 1B Robert Fick (shoulder) was placed
on the DL, retroactive to last Sunday. ... Sheffield's cheap single
extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

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