ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves had to go with a replacement
to get the sort of effort they're used to getting from their
Too bad John Thomson spent so much time on the basepaths.
Thomson went five strong innings in his first start of the year
and Marcus Giles hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning to
give the Braves a win in their home opener, 5-3 over the
Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night.
Thomson went 2-for-2 at the plate, putting Atlanta ahead with a
two-run double in the fourth. But all that extra running tired him
out, and he came out an inning earlier that planned after throwing
"He was gassed," manager Bobby Cox said. "He shouldn't get so
many hits so he doesn't have to run so much."
Thomson didn't get the win -- the bullpen squandered a 3-1 lead
after he came out -- but he still gave a major boost to a
beleaguered rotation that had an ERA of 10.09 over the first seven
games, giving up 34 earned runs in 30 1-3 innings.
"That's what we're used to around here," Giles said. "That's
what we're going to get. We have too many good starters to let that
Not surprisingly, the Braves entered the night ranked last in
the NL with an ERA of 7.58 -- a startling spot for a team that
usually ranks at or near the top of the league in pitching.
Thomson didn't even start the season in the rotation. He was the
odd man out of a six-man contest in the spring, but reclaimed his
familiar role after Horacio Ramirez went on the disabled list.
"I've been doing this my whole life," said Thomson, who had
only one relief appearance in 196 career games before making two
last week. "It's all I've ever known. This is more of a comfort
zone for me."
The Braves, coming off a 3-4 West Coast trip to start the
season, made their Turner Field debut before a sellout crowd of
47,332 that included former President Carter, who wore a Braves cap
and watched from a box next to the Atlanta dugout with his wife,
Chris Reitsma, who blew a lead the previous day by giving up two
ninth-inning runs in San Francisco, was booed when he entered the
game in the ninth. But he pitched a perfect inning for his third
save in four chances.
"It's nice to have a nice, clean win," Reitsma said. "The
1-2-3 (inning) is obviously great. But the goal is to get it done
before the other team scores."
Atlanta jumped ahead in the fourth with a two-out rally. Brian
McCann and Wilson Betemit singled before Thomson drove a pitch from
Brett Myers over the head of center fielder Aaron Roward for a
Betemit started at third for Chipper Jones, who went on the
15-day disabled list with a sprained knee and ankle.
Philadelphia picked up an unearned run in the fifth when Atlanta
right fielder Jeff Francoeur let Rowand's single skip by him and
roll to the wall. Jimmy Rollins scored all the way from first to
make it 2-1.
Andruw Jones restored the Braves' two-run lead with a 410-foot
homer to center field off Myers in the bottom half, producing
another two-out run for Atlanta. Myers went five innings, giving up
seven hits and three runs while striking out six.
"I made two bad pitches," he said. "I threw a good cutter to
everybody but (Thomson). What are you going to do? The one to
Andruw, I didn't expect him to swing at it. It wasn't a great
pitch, but he hit it."
Philadelphia tied it up in the seventh on Bobby Abreu's
sacrifice fly off Oscar Villareal (3-0), who blew one for Thomson
but became the first three-game winner in the majors.
Rollins of the Phillies went 3-for-4 with a walk and has now hit
safely in 42 of 43 games. The only hitless game, of course, snapped
a 38-game streak that stretched back to last season.
Now, he's got a new streak going, hitting safely in four
straight. But he's not getting much help from his teammates.
"We're waiting on the big hit," Rollins said. "It just hasn't
come. It's single, single."
No one if struggling has much as Francoeur. Last year's rookie
sensation went 0-for-4 and is now just 2-of-33 (.061) on the
The Braves celebrated their 40th anniversary in Atlanta
during opening night ceremonies before the game. Actually, though,
this is their 41st season. The team moved from Milwaukee before the
1966 season. ... Singer Edwin McCain, a native Atlantan, performed
the national anthem, with the last part of the song drowned out by
four F-18 Hornets that roared over Turner Field. ... NASCAR star
Jimmie Johnson attended the game. ... It was Cormier vs. Cormier.
Lance Cormier came on to pitch for the Braves in the sixth inning,
and Rheal Cormier took over for the Phillies in the bottom half.
The two are not related. ... Thomson last two-RBI game came on May
1, 2004, at Colorado.