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Mets starter pulls hamstring in warmups

ATLANTA (AP) -- On "Hank Aaron Appreciation Day," the Atlanta
Braves gave their former slugger a game he could really appreciate.

Johnny Estrada had a career-high four RBI and the Braves
celebrated the 30th anniversary of Aaron's 715th home run with a
10-8 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday night.

A night after 15 players came to the plate during an 11-run
inning, the Braves sent 10 up in a four-run sixth that gave them
the lead for good. Pinch-hitter Jesse Garcia came up twice in the
inning, just as Julio Franco did Wednesday night in the same role.

"I think Hank would have been a little more proud if somebody
had popped one out of the yard, " second baseman Marcus Giles
said. "It was especially nice to swing the bats like that on his
day, because that's what he did so well. I'm sure he's pretty happy
we got the win."

Estrada finished 3-for-4 -- tying a career high for hits -- and
Giles had four hits for Atlanta, which bounced back from a
season-opening loss to the Mets to score 28 runs in the next two
games.

"We're going to have to pitch better and start doing the little
things," Estrada said. "I don't think we can count on
double-digit hits every night."

Will Cunnane (1-0) picked up the win despite giving up the tying
run in the sixth, and John Smoltz got his first save despite
allowing a solo home run to Mike Cameron in the ninth.

The Braves held a ceremony honoring Aaron before the game, and
several of Aaron's former teammates attended, including current
Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker. The Cubs lost to Cincinnati
earlier in the day.

Aaron's wife, Billye, sang the national anthem.

The Hammer probably enjoyed the offensive output by Atlanta's
new-look lineup -- wearing throwback jerseys from Aaron's 1974 team.
With three players as regulars for the first time, including
Estrada, the Braves hardly seem to miss Gary Sheffield and Javy
Lopez.

They have 33 hits in the past two games, including eight
doubles.

"It's kind of funny, because everybody said we were going to
struggle," Estrada said. "We're getting a lot of runs without
hitting a lot of homers. That's the sign of a good ball club. We're
hitting in the gaps, we're getting clutch hits."

Ty Wigginton hit a two-run homer and drove in a career-high four
runs for the short-handed Mets, who lost scheduled starter Scott
Erickson before he even took the mound. The right-hander missed his
first NL start after he strained a hamstring 11 minutes into his
warmup, and then was put on the 15-day disabled list.

"I threw a pitch and heard it pop," Erickson said. "I knew
not to throw another pitch. I've bounced back pretty quickly from
these in the past."

Erickson's probably glad he missed the sixth inning.

Garcia led off with a single against John Franco (0-1), then
tagged up and went to second on a routine flyout by Rafael Furcal.
Giles singled up the middle to bring home Garcia, and Chipper Jones
was walked intentionally.

J.D. Drew hit a grounder to second, but hustled down the line to
beat out the double play. After Andruw Jones walked, pinch-hitter
Franco also walked to drive in Giles, and Estrada followed with a
two-run single to complete the scoring and make it 9-5.

Reliever Dan Wheeler, who pitched 1 1-3 innings Wednesday night,
took the mound in Erickson's place and pitched into the fifth with
a 4-2 lead.

He ran into trouble there, allowing a double to Furcal before
leaving. New pitcher David Weathers didn't fare very well, either,
allowing four hits and two runs in the inning.

"Hitting's all confidence, and it's very contagious," Giles
said. "We haven't drank any special water to make us hit better."

For the second straight game, the Mets jumped to an early lead,
going ahead 2-0 on a Wigginton's homer in the second. The Braves
tied it on a two-run double by Estrada in the fourth, but New York
went on top again on a run-scoring triple by Karim Garcia and a
sacrifice fly by Cliff Floyd.

"The game started strange and got stranger," New York manager
Art Howe said. "It certainly took a toll on our bullpen."

Game notes
New York CF Mike Cameron and 2B Joe McEwing had steals,
giving the Mets three in the series. They had no one caught
stealing. ... In 11 seasons in the AL, Erickson was 140-128 with
Minnesota and Baltimore. ... Furcal came to the plate in the sixth
with a helmet without an ear flap. Umpire Bill Welke made him get
one with a flap.