Final

Series: Game 3 of 4

Atlanta leads 3-0 (as of 7/31)

Game 1: Friday, July 29
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Atlanta2
Game 2: Saturday, July 30
Pittsburgh6Final
Atlanta9
Game 3: Sunday, July 31
Pittsburgh4Final
Atlanta5
Game 4: Monday, August 1
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Atlanta1

Pirates 4

(44-61, 20-34 away)

Braves 5

(61-44, 35-14 home)

    1:05 PM ET, July 31, 2005

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 000300001 4 10 0
    ATL 20001020 - 5 16 0

    W: J. Smoltz (12-6)

    L: J. Grabow (2-1)

    S: C. Reitsma (14)

    Braves top Pirates to finish July 18-8

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Chipper Jones' return from the disabled list and the emergence of rookie outfielder Jeff Francoeur have bolstered the middle of the entire Atlanta Braves offense, starting at the top.

    Rafael Furcal homered from both sides of the plate, Marcus Giles had four hits and John Smoltz won his eighth straight decision, leading the Braves over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Sunday.

    "That's what happens when you feel good from both sides of the plate," Furcal said. "I've tried to be patient and have concentration. And I'm healthy. I'm going to home plate to get on base no matter how."

    Atlanta was 4½ games off the NL East lead at the end of June and then went 18-8 to take a season-high five-game division advantage over second-place Washington.

    "We're on a roll; we're clicking," said Giles, who had four hits to lift his batting average to .298.

    Seeking its 14th straight division title, Atlanta is 6-0 on a homestand that ends with Monday's finale of the four-game series against Pittsburgh.

    "We've got two more months and we've got to keep winning," said closer Chris Reitsma, who had two wins and eight saves in July.

    Each team was involved in trades announced after the game. The Braves acquired reliever Kyle Farnsworth from Detroit for pitcher Roman Colon and minor-league pitcher Zach Miner, and the Pirates got outfielder Jody Gerut from the Cubs for outfielder Matt Lawton.

    "From a personal standpoint, I hate to lose Roman; he's got a great future ahead of him," Giles said. "From a team standpoint, we need to make moves that can fit in like a piece in a puzzle. Kyle Farnsworth fits in a little better into our puzzle right now."

    The Pirates have lost five straight and have gone 14-31 since June 11, when they were 30-30. John Grabow (2-1) gave up two runs and three hits in one-third of an inning for the Pirates.

    "Until this stretch, we've actually been playing pretty good baseball," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We have to keep things in perspective."

    Smoltz (12-5), who hasn't lost since June 6 against the Angels, gave up three runs and eight hits in eight innings. Reitsma pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 18 chances, allowing a run-scoring single to Freddy Sanchez before ending the game by striking out Lawton.

    "I fight the frustration when I give up a few hits like that," Smoltz said, referring to three infield hits by the Pirates. "I'm old enough to realize that I can fight through that and just keep it there. ... All in all, to go eight innings was probably a bigger deal for me than anything else."

    Furcal had three hits of Atlanta's 16 hits and scored three runs. He homered off Josh Fogg batting left-handed leading off the fifth, tying the score at 3.

    "He's been a big part of this resurgence that's allowed us to win," Smoltz said. "He's getting on base. He's getting huge hits. He's been the key."

    Furcal homered batting right-handed against Grabow leading off the seventh for a 4-3 lead.

    "It was supposed to be down and away and I got it up," Grabow said. "It wasn't my day. I didn't do my job."

    It was the second time in his career Furcal homered from both sides of the plate. He also accomplished the feat on April 15 at Philadelphia.

    Chipper Jones' RBI single and Andruw Jones' sacrifice fly put Atlanta ahead 2-0 in the first.

    Pittsburgh went ahead 3-2 in the fourth on Daryle Ward's RBI double, Jack Wilson's run-scoring single and Fogg's RBI grounder.

    Fogg gave up three runs and 11 hits in six innings. The 11 hits allowed matched his season high, on June 12 against Tampa Bay.

    "I didn't get the ball down at all today," Fogg said. "Eleven hits in six innings proves the point that I wasn't pitching down in the zone. ... When Furcal got the home run in the fifth, it shifted the momentum back to them."

    Pinch-hitter Julio Franco added an RBI single off Rick White in the eighth.

    Game notes


    Smoltz is 9-1 in his last 12 starts. ... Giles had his second four-hit game this month and third this season. He had four hits against Chicago on July 7 and at Colorado on May 10. ... Francoeur was 2-for-4, lifting his batting average to .413.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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