Series: Game 2 of 3

Atlanta leads 2-0 (as of 9/11)

Game 1: Friday, September 10
Game 2: Saturday, September 11
Game 3: Sunday, September 12
in 12

Expos 1

(59-82, 26-44 away)

Braves 8

(83-58, 42-29 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 11, 2004

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

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    ATL 01100060 - 8 11 1

    W: J. Cruz (5-2)

    L: L. Hernandez (10-13)

    Hampton leaves in fifth; MRI scheduled

    ATLANTA (AP) -- The sight of Mike Hampton limping off the mound in the fifth inning overshadowed another victory by the Atlanta Braves.

    Hampton left an 8-1 win over the Montreal Expos on Saturday night after feeling a pop in the knee when throwing a pitch.

    "Hopefully, it's nothing major," said Hampton, who is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

    Hampton said he has daily treatment on the knee, which "has been sore for about two years."

    But Hampton added: "I haven't felt it like this before. ... When I threw, I felt it pop."

    Pitching coach Leo Mazzone knows what the loss of Hampton would mean to the Braves.

    "It sure isn't going to help," Mazzone said. "He's a big-game pitcher, too. He has meant a whole lot to us in our rotation."

    Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal each homered and pinch-hitter Julio Franco capped a six-run seventh inning with a two-RBI double as the Braves stretched their lead in the NL East to 8½ games.

    The Braves led only 2-1 before knocking Livan Hernandez (10-13) out of the game in the seventh inning, when they sent 11 batters to the plate.

    Hampton, making his first start since Aug. 31 -- he skipped his scheduled turn against Philadelphia Monday with a stiff neck -- gave up four hits in 4 1-3 scoreless innings before he had to leave the game. Hampton did not earn the win, but he lowered his earned run average to 4.58. Hampton is tied for third on the team in wins with 11.

    It appeared Hampton favored the knee after trying to beat out a sacrifice in the bottom of the fourth, but he said that discomfort "was nothing different than it has been for a while."

    After he faced one batter in the fifth inning, assistant trainer Jim Lovell and manager Bobby Cox visited Hampton on the mound. Without even trying a practice pitch, Hampton headed to the dugout, slightly favoring the left knee.

    "We don't want to lose him," Cox said.

    Depending on the severity of Hampton's injury, Atlanta might have to rely on Jose Capellan, the Braves' top pitching prospect who will make his major league debut Sunday, down the stretch. Capellan was 14-4 in the minors this season.

    Reliever Juan Cruz (5-2) took over for Hampton and gave up one run in 1 2-3 innings.

    After recording an out, Cruz gave up Brad Wilkerson's 28th homer, just beyond the reach of Braves left fielder Charles Thomas, pulling the Expos to 2-1.

    Making his sixth start of the season against Atlanta, Hernandez gave up 10 hits and seven runs while walking four batters in 6 1-3 innings. He set a season high by throwing 143 pitches.

    Montreal manager Frank Robinson said Hernandez and a few other pitchers are capable of throwing that many pitches, "but we just don't let them. It can be done."

    Hernandez is 0-10 in his last 12 regular-season starts against the Braves, including 0-5 this season. His last win over Atlanta came on Aug. 18, 2000, while with San Francisco.

    "He's had no luck," Cox said. "We beat him one time on a bunch of infield hits."

    Furcal led off the seventh with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice by Marcus Giles. After J.D. Drew walked, Chipper Jones singled to left on a 3-2 pitch to drive in Furcal. Johnny Estrada followed with a run-scoring double, pushing the lead to 4-1.

    On Hernandez's final pitch, Adam LaRoche lined a two-run double down the right field line, driving in Jones and Estrada for a 6-1 lead.

    "I still felt good," Hernandez said, adding he didn't want to come out of the game. "If you're a pitcher, you want to pitch," he said.

    Montreal reliever Francis Beltran loaded the bases by hitting Andruw Jones with a pitch and walking Thomas. Franco followed with a two-run double to center.

    Andruw Jones, who had two hits, gave the Braves a 1-0 lead with his 26th homer in the second inning.

    Furcal, back in the starting lineup following his second drunken driving arrest in four years early Friday, led off the third inning with his 13th homer, pushing the lead to 2-0.

    Game notes

    Expos CF Endy Chavez sat out for the second straight day with a sore left shoulder. ... Estrada has been hit by 10 pitches this season, the most of any Braves player. ... There was a pregame tribute to the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, and a moment of silence for the victims of the attacks. The ceremonial first pitch was "launched" from the USS John. F. Kennedy on the Turner Field video screen.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press