ATLANTA (AP) _ Andruw Jones came off the bench and hit a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning, lifting the Atlanta
Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Texas closer Ugueth Urbina came on with one out and a runner at second. He retired Vinny Castilla on a grounder to shortstop, then
got ahead 0-2 on Jones. Urbina (0-2) decided not to waste a pitch, and Jones connected on a 406-foot drive to the center-field stands for the first
pinch-hit homer of his career.
Jones, who didn't start because of shoulder and knee injuries, was 2-for-27 as a pinch-hitter before his 14th homer of the season. Kevin Gryboski (4-3) earned the win by getting two outs in the eighth, then John Smoltz worked a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 21st save in 22 chances.
The Rangers used their favorite weapon -- the home run -- to build a 4-0 lead against Russ Ortiz. Juan Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in the first and former Georgia Tech star Mark Teixeira led off the second with another homer. The Rangers lead the majors with 91 homers.
Atlanta, the top home run team in the National League, bounced back with three runs in the second, driven in by a pair of two-out hits. Henry Blanco, filling in for the injured Javy Lopez, doubled home two runs and Ortiz helped his cause with an RBI single.
Atlanta tied it in the third on Castilla's run-scoring single. The Rangers took advantage of Atlanta's shaky middle relief in
the eighth. Roberto Hernandez walked two before giving way to Ray King, who gave up a bloop single to left-center by Hank Blalock.
Darren Bragg, who started in place of Jones, double-pumped on the throw home and Einar Diaz got a foot on the plate before Blanco
made the tag. Ortiz bounced back from his rocky start to pitch six innings. He allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out four.
Texas starter Ismael Valdez was denied his fourth straight win since coming off the DL. He went seven innings, giving up nine hits and four runs.
The opener of the interleague series drew 30,444 to Turner Field, far above the team's weekday average of 23,986. The turnout was bolstered by the first Atlanta appearance of Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers. A-Rod went 0-for-4 as the Rangers lost their fourth in a row. The Braves avoided their first three-game losing streak since Montreal swept the season-opening series at Turner Field.
Notes:@ Atlanta SS Rafael Furcal had the 100th stolen base of his career in the fourth inning. ... The Braves averaged 20,706 for
their first three Tuesday night games of the season. ... The only weekday games to draw larger crowds this season were opening day
(40,244) and Memorial Day (33,455). ... Texas dropped to 2-5 on its 12-game road trip, the longest of the season.