<
>

McCann drives in five to power Braves past Marlins

ATLANTA (AP) -- Brian McCann never expected to find his name at
the top of the National League's hitting list.

But there he is, with a .352 average after one of the biggest
games of his career Monday night.

McCann hit a three-run homer, finished with a career-best five
RBI and helped the Atlanta Braves overcome a 5-0 deficit to pull
out a wild 11-8 victory over the Florida Marlins.

Andruw Jones had four hits and four RBI for the Braves, but
he's done that sort of thing before. The 22-year-old McCann is a
huge surprise, even though he showed enough potential during his
rookie season for the Braves to trade former All-Star catcher
Johnny Estrada.

"Nobody expects to be hitting .350," said McCann, who went
3-for-5. "I'm just trying to put some consistent at-bats
together."

The Marlins lost despite getting six RBI from Mike Jacobs,
ruining a modest two-game winning streak that equaled the best run
of a dismal season.

Atlanta stormed ahead with six runs in the sixth, Florida
rallied to tie it at 8 and the Braves won it with three more runs
in the seventh. Amazingly, they scored all 11 runs with two-out
hits.

The only setback for the Braves: Starting pitcher Kyle Davies
went out with a groin injury and likely is headed to the disabled
list.

McCann and Jones were in the middle of every big inning for the
Braves. They each had run-scoring singles in the fifth, sparking
the comeback. In the sixth, Jones had a two-run single that tied it
at 5, and McCann followed with a towering three-run homer into the
Braves' bullpen.

The Braves tied their season high with 18 hits. Five Florida
hurlers combined to throw a staggering 206 pitches.

"That was an American League game," manager Bobby Cox said.

In a fitting footnote to the back-and-forth game, Oscar
Villareal (5-0) picked up the win despite giving up a three-run
homer to Jacobs in the seventh.

Atlanta responded with three runs of its own in the bottom half.
Jones and McCann each had RBI singles, and Jeff Francoeur tacked on
the final run with one of his own.

"I saw something I was doing (wrong) when I looked at the tape
today," Jones said. "I knew I had to correct it. I had four good
at-bats and four hits."

Randy Messenger (0-2) took the loss, giving up a leadoff double
to Adam LaRoche in the seventh.

LaRoche didn't start the game, getting benched after he was
outhustled on a play that cost the Braves four unearned runs
Sunday. But he came on as a pinch-hitter in the sixth, stayed in
and wound up scoring the winning run after his double.

"I just didn't want to screw up," LaRoche said. "It was nice
to cross home and hear a few cheers out there."

Chris Reitsma worked a scoreless ninth for his seventh save in
nine chances, but the best pitching was turned in by journeyman
reliever Chad Paronto. He struck out six and gave up only one hit
in three scoreless innings after replacing Davies.

"I was just trying to keep us in the game, give us an
opportunity to win," Paronto said.

Jacobs, who came into the game batting just .198, turned in the
best performance of his young career. His three-run double in the
third gave the Marlins their five-run lead. He doubled again in the
fifth and homered off Villareal in the seventh.

"It's frustrating, putting together eight runs and not being
able to hold onto the game," Jacobs said.

Florida jumped ahead with a first-inning run, then scored four
more in the third. The first five hitters reached base against
Davies, who gave up a leadoff homer to Dan Uggla and Jacobs'
bases-loaded double into the right-field corner that brought
everyone home.

Davies threw only four more pitches, bending over in pain after
Miguel Oliva fouled one off. The right-hander didn't even attempt
to throw test pitch, walking slowly off the field with the trainer.

The Braves said Davies will be re-evaluated on Tuesday, but Cox
said the injury was certainly serious enough to require a stint on
the DL.

Florida starter Josh Johnson lasted five innings, leading with a
5-2 lead. He gave up seven hits and walked three, but also struck
out six.

Atlanta surged ahead against relievers Matt Herges and Randy
Messenger, sending 11 hitters to the plate in the sixth.

Then it was time for a Florida comeback. Villareal gave up a
couple of walks before grooving a pitch to Jacobs, who drove it
into the right-field seats for the tying homer.

Game notes
Florida 1B coach Perry Hill missed the game for personal
reasons. He was replaced by Ed Romero, the Marlins' minor-league
infield coordinator. ... Francoeur extended his career-best hitting
streak to 13 games with an infield single in the sixth. ... Atlanta
OF Kelly Johnson went 3-for-3 during an injury rehab game at Class
A Rome. ... McCann eclipsed his previous best of three RBI in a
game.