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Atlanta 5, New York 3

7/8/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Except for a late twist, Shane Reynolds could've
been pitching for the New York Mets instead of beating them.

Reynolds shut down the team that tried to sign him earlier this
season and Jung Keun Bong provided timely relief as the Atlanta
Braves defeated the Mets 5-3 Tuesday night for their fifth straight
victory.

Abruptly cut by Houston on March 27, Reynolds was courted by
several clubs. The Mets nearly had him, but the deal came apart
when they wanted him to start at Triple-A Norfolk.

"That's a weird situation," Reynolds said. "We'd pretty much
agreed. It was either those guys or the Braves."

Instead, he signed with Atlanta on April 10 and moved right into
the rotation for a team that now has the best record in the majors.

Vinny Castilla homered and drove in three runs for the Braves.
Chipper Jones went 0-for-3 with two walks, ending his career-best
streak of two straight multihomer games.

The Mets broke out their blue hats for the first time this year,
but they did not bring much luck. Rookie Jason Roach, pitching in
place of injured Al Leiter, fell behind after three batters and New
York never led.

Reynolds (6-4) reversed a recent slide that saw his lose three
starts in a row, getting tagged for 16 runs and 24 hits in 15
innings. He escaped two early jams, with shortstop Rafael Furcal
making a smart play to end one and snaring a bases-loaded liner to
halt the other.

Reynolds gave up two runs in six innings in his first game
against the Mets since 1999.

"He wasn't tired, but it was humid and he'd been on the
bases," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Down 5-2, the Mets rallied in the eighth against Roberto
Hernandez. A walk, a double by Vance Wilson and a groundout by
pinch-hitter Raul Gonzalez produced one run.

Hernandez made it worse by babying a throw to first base,
bouncing it for an error that let Jose Reyes reach. A walk to
pinch-hitter Tony Clark loaded the bases with one out.

Bong relieved and did his job, getting the speedy Roger Cedeno
to ground into an inning-ending double play.

"That was the ballgame, right there," Cox said.

John Smoltz worked the ninth for his 33rd save in 35 chances.
After Smoltz threw one pitch, plate umpire Tim Tschida made him
trim off part of the right sleeve from a white T-shirt underneath
his jersey.

"They made (Jae) Seo take his thing off last night, so
turnabout is fair play," Mets manager Art Howe said.

During the Braves' 7-3 win Monday night, Atlanta had Seo, the
Mets' starting pitcher, take off a wooden bracelet he wears on his
glove hand.

Said Tschida: "It was no problem."

Cox agreed and added, "It was the right thing to do."

Roach (0-2) was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk a day earlier
when Leiter was put on the disabled list because of a bad knee. The
27-year-old righty gave up five runs in six innings of his second
major league appearance -- he started on June 14 at Anaheim and was
hit hard in three innings.

Roach fared much better with the bat. He went 2-for-2 in his
first two big league at-bats.

"I feel good at the plate. I'm excited to hit every day," he
said. "Taking batting practice at 4:30 today was great."

Marcus Giles doubled with one out in the first and scored on
Gary Sheffield's single. Robert Fick and Castilla hit RBI singles
in the fourth for a 3-1 lead.

Castilla hit his 13th homer, a two-run shot in the sixth for a
5-2 edge. He hit a total of 12 homers last year.

Joe McEwing hit an RBI single in the Mets' second. His hit put
runners at the corners with one out, and Reyes followed with a
comebacker to Reynolds. The pitcher threw to second base for a
forceout and then the strong-armed Furcal -- with little chance to
get the fleet Reyes at first -- fired to the plate to cut down a
slow-breaking Jason Phillips.

Jeromy Burnitz hit his 18th homer in the Mets' fifth.

Game notes
Giles made his third error in two days, and it was an odd
one for the All-Star second baseman. Covering first base on a bunt,
he missed the bag and was charged with the miscue. Giles had only
five errors this season before coming to New York this week. ...
Mets LHP Mike Stanton was hit hard in his first rehab outing.
Starting for Double-A Binghamton, he gave up three runs and six
hits in one inning. He was put on the disabled list June 11 because
of an injured left knee.