MIAMI (AP) -- Jaret Wright's performance was a gem -- even by his
high standards this season.
Wright allowed just three hits in 8 1/3 innings, and the Atlanta
Braves dealt another blow to the Florida Marlins' fading hopes in
the NL wild-card race by winning 4-2 Saturday night.Wright (15-7) struck out five, walked one and hit a batter. The
right-hander retired 22 of 25 batters through eight innings and
took a shutout into the ninth, giving the crowd of 34,714 little to
cheer about."He's had some beauties, and this one ranks right up there,"
manager Bobby Cox said. "He was dynamite."Wright came into the season with a lifetime record of 37-37. His
victory total is a career high, and he has the most wins on an
Atlanta staff that ranks second in the major leagues in ERA."He's a totally different pitcher than the Jaret Wright we saw
a few years ago," Florida's Mike Lowell said. "He was hitting
that outside corner, and when it's 95 or 96 mph, it's tough."J.D. Drew put Atlanta ahead to stay, snapping a scoreless tie
with an RBI double in the sixth off Josh Beckett (7-9). The Braves
reduced the magic number to six for clinching the NL East crown,
which would be their 13th straight division title.Defending World Series champion Florida remained 4½ games behind
wild-card leader San Francisco. The Marlins have lost four of their
past five, all at home."We don't have room to have games like this, but we're having
them," center fielder Juan Pierre said.Before the latest loss, manager Jack McKeon predicted it would
take at least 92 victories to win the NL wild card. That would mean
his team must finish 15-1 or 16-0 to earn a playoff berth."As long as you've got a chance, you never know," McKeon said.
"We'd better getting rolling quick, though."Lowell was the only Florida player to reach base in the first
eight innings. He had the Marlins' first two hits -- a flare to
right field leading off the fifth, and a blooper to center in the
eighth. Each time he was quickly erased on a double play.Wright won for only the second time in nine career outings
against the Marlins. He was the starting pitcher for Cleveland at
Pro Player Stadium in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, when Florida
beat the Indians."It's nice to win here," he said. "You're going to think
about it because of the memories."Bidding for his first complete game since 2000, Wright took a
two-hitter into the ninth. But the right-hander departed after
hitting a batter and allowing a single by Pierre.John Smoltz gave up an RBI groundout by Luis Castillo, and Paul
Lo Duca doubled home a run. Miguel Cabrera then grounded out,
giving Smoltz his 39th save.The Braves broke through in the sixth. Rafael Furcal led off
with his second infield single of the game, took second on a single
by Marcus Giles and scored on Drew's double. After Johnny Estrada
was intentionally walked, Julio Franco's groundout scored a run.
Drew came home on a two-out wild pitch, and Andruw Jones singled in
Beckett, pulled after six innings, declined to speak with
reporters. He fell to 0-3 in three starts against Atlanta this
season with an ERA of 7.27.Atlanta has won four in a row against the Marlins, outscoring
them 30-10. Florida had 13 hits Friday night but lost 8-1."This was a huge series for them, and we wanted to play well,"
the Braves' Chipper Jones said. "To take these first two in their
ballpark, you have to feel good about that."
Florida RHP A.J. Burnett, who missed his turn in the
rotation Friday because of elbow inflammation, threw lightly
Saturday and said he felt good. He might be available to pitch as
early as Tuesday. ... The Braves lead the season series 11-4. ...
Beckett fell to 2-7 lifetime against Atlanta.