Franco wins 13-pitch at-bat


ATLANTA (AP) -- Julio Franco fouled off pitch after pitch, and
with each one, he got a better feel for Kyle Farnsworth's fastball.

"I was making some adjustments and timing him pretty good,"
Franco said.

The 45-year-old completed that 13-pitch at-bat with a
tie-breaking, three-run double in the eighth inning, and the
Atlanta Braves rallied past the Chicago Cubs 5-2 Saturday night.

In the game only because rookie Adam LaRoche fouled a pitch off
his foot earlier, Franco fought back from an 0-2 count by fouling
off five straight pitches at one point. He eventually worked the
count full, then drove a fastball from Farnsworth over Sammy Sosa's
head in right.

"That was one of the best at-bats I've ever see," Chicago
manager Dusty Baker said. "That was classic Franco, being the
great hitter that he is, and he won the battle that time. You've
got to give him credit."

That capped a four-run inning and gave the Braves the win a
night after they blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth.

"I was surprised he stayed away, that's my strength," Franco
said. "I was just trying to go to right field."

And how did Farnsworth see it?

"I've got nothing to say," he said.

The comeback spoiled a marvelous outing by Cubs right-hander
Sergio Mitre, who pitched five-hit ball over 7 2-3 innings and was
in line to get his first big league win.

"I was able to keep them off-balance most of the night," Mitre
said. "I learned from my mistakes last year, trying to do too

He left in favor of Andy Pratt after allowing a two-out single
to Marcus Giles in the eighth with the Cubs leading 2-1. Pratt
(0-1), who was traded to the Cubs by the Braves late in spring
training, walked Chipper Jones and J.D. Drew to load the bases, and
was replaced by Farnsworth.

"I just put too much pressure on myself, and try to do too
much," Pratt said.

Farnsworth threw three straight balls to Andruw Jones, then came
back with two strikes before missing low and away to bring home
Giles with the tying run. A batter later, Franco brought in

Antonio Alfonseca (1-0) got two outs in the eighth to pick up
the win, and Kevin Gryboski pitched the ninth for his first career

Todd Hollandsworth homered and Sosa had two doubles for the

"It doesn't matter what age you are, if you can hit, you can
hit," Sosa said of Franco. "You have to believe it now. I'd love
to have a guy like that on our team."

Hollandsworth tied it in the fifth with his second homer run in
as many games; a night earlier, he hit a solo shot off Atlanta
closer John Smoltz as a pinch-hitter to force extra innings.
Chicago eventually won that one 2-1 in 15 innings.

Atlanta took a 1-0 lead in this one on a wild pitch by Mitre in
the first, and journeyman Jaret Wright nearly held it. Making his
first start in the majors since Sept. 9, 2002, Wright cruised into
the middle innings before faltering.

First, Hollandsworth tagged him for the tying homer in the
fifth, and an inning later, the Cubs took the lead. Todd Walker led
off with a walk and moved to third on Sosa's second double, a line
drive that got by Franco at first.

Aramis Ramirez struck out, but Derrek Lee hit a sacrifice fly to
center to score Walker with the go ahead run. Wright got out of the
inning on a flyout by Alex Gonzalez.

Wright allowed three hits and two runs in six innings. He walked
four and struck out four.

"It definitely felt different, you just try to enjoy it,"
Wright said. "You give up two runs in six innings, I'll definitely
take that."

The Braves were without shortstop Rafael Furcal, who injured his
back Friday night and might go on the disabled list.

Game notes
With their victory Friday night in 15 innings, the Cubs
improved to 3-0 in extra-inning games at Turner Field. They also
won 10-6 in 11 innings May 23, 1998, and 6-5 in 12 innings May 20,
1999. ... Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt threw out the
first pitch, and the entire team was honored before the game for
its run in the NCAA tournament. The Yellow Jackets lost to
Connecticut in the championship game.