ATLANTA (AP) -- When Chipper Jones entered the All-Star break
with just 34 RBI, he was a long shot to reach 100 for the ninth
straight season. Now he has a decent chance.
Jones homered twice and matched his career high with five RBI
to lead the surging Atlanta Braves past the Colorado Rockies 8-1
Wednesday night for their 19th win in 26 games.Jones, slowed by a hamstring injury in the first half and
hitting only .214 with 12 homers at the break, is batting .346
(28-for-81) in August with 10 homers and 25 RBI in 21 games. His
overall average is up to .251 with 24 homers and 69 RBI."I'm glad we're approaching the subject that it is within
reach," Jones said of the 100-RBI mark.Eli Marrero also homered off Jeff Francis, who gave up six hits,
including three homers, and six runs in his major league debut."I made a few pitches I'd like to have back," Francis said.
"I will learn from it. It's an execution thing. I was pretty calm.
It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I was trying not to get
caught up in it."Jones, who homered in five straight games from Aug. 13-17, put
Atlanta ahead with a two-run homer in the first inning, then hit a
three-run drive in the sixth for a 6-1 lead. He came up with the
bases loaded and no outs in seventh but popped out against Jeff
Fassero.Jones is 0-for-9 with the bases loaded this season."Fassero has pretty much had his way with me throwing fastballs
and splitters, and he threw me a slider," Jones said. "With two
homers and five RBI, you can't be too disappointed with that."Jones' resurgence has sparked the Braves, who are 27-11 since
the break, opening an 8½-game lead over second-place Florida in the
NL East.J.D. Drew went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, one night after he
missed a game because he cut his head after batting practice when
jumping down the dugout steps.John Thomson (10-8) gave up one run and five hits in seven
innings in his second start against his former team. He didn't get
a decision in an 11-7 win at Colorado on May 1."It's always good to go seven innings and give up only one run,
no matter who it's against," Thomson said.Antonio Alfonseca and Roman Colon completed the six-hitter.Francis, a 23-year-old left-hander who was the No. 9 overall
pick in the 2002 amateur draft, was the loser, giving up six runs
in five innings and striking out eight. He was 16-3 with a 2.27 ERA
in the minor leagues this year."The young kid is good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He
has good breaking stuff and was sneaky fast. ... When he gets his
feet on the ground, he's going to be dynamite."Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said the team intentionally
scheduled the debut away from Colorado to lessen the pressure."He has a lot of tools," Hurdle said. "He had pretty good
command. He had poise. He had good rhythm."Francis' parents, Mike and Joanne Francis, made the trip from
Vancouver, British Columbia, and Joanne's cheers after every strike
were easily heard in the ballpark."I can't ever not hear her," Francis said.Francis opened by striking out Rafael Furcal, but gave up a
two-out single to Drew and Jones' 23rd homer. He didn't allow
another hit until Marrero homered for a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
Jones' second homer finished Francis' night.Andruw Jones hit an RBI single in the sixth off Chris Gissell,
and Julio Franco had an RBI single in the eighth against Fassero.
Aaron Miles drove in Colorado's run with a sacrifice fly in the
Francis, who was 0-for-13 as a hitter with Tulsa and
Colorado Springs this year, sacrificed in his first plate
appearance in the third inning and lined out in the fifth inning.
... Chipper Jones has 30 two-homer games. He has never hit more
than two in a game. ... Colorado had lost four straight road games
after losing only four of its previous 17.