Staying out of a double play was important, so Smoltz figured
his teammate would reach third easily when New York pitcher Pedro
Martinez fielded Julio Franco's soft grounder.
Instead, Smoltz was ecstatic to see Giles keep running and score
standing up, the final run in the Braves' 3-1 victory over the Mets
on Tuesday night.
"That's a huge run for a pitcher," Smoltz said of the game's
final run. "When you're battling, that run makes you feel like -- I
wish hitters could appreciate what a pitcher feels like because
that run's huge. He had it all the way. It was such a great play."
Smoltz outpitched Martinez, and Andruw Jones drove in two runs
as Atlanta got its second straight win over the Mets.
Facing Martinez for the third time this season, Smoltz (14-6)
won his second straight in the matchup of former Cy Young Award
winners. Smoltz allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings,
walking one and striking out two.
Atlanta, which began the night with a six-game lead in the NL
East, improved to 11-4 against the Mets, who fell to 20-50 at
Turner Field. The Braves have won five of six overall.
With Giles on second and Chipper Jones on first in the sixth,
Martinez (13-7) fielded Franco's grounder near the third base line
and seemed to forget about Giles, who was running toward third.
Giles had already rounded third when Martinez, who had his back
turned to the runner, turned to throw out Franco. As soon as the
ball left Martinez's hand, Giles scored easily.
"Obviously a double play is not in order with the runners
going, so as a defender you're thinking, 'Get the runner out,"
Giles said. "When the swinging bunt happened, I had it my mind
that I was going home, hoping that Pedro didn't get alerted that I
Franco, who was credited with an RBI groundout, is slow enough
that Martinez could have held Giles at third and still gotten the
47-year-old Atlanta first baseman out.
"That really never happened to me before," Martinez said. "I
learned something different. Franco was running, and I knew I had
to try to get him. I looked at the replay and the coach never sent
[Giles]. He just ran like somebody was chasing him."
Martinez pitched six innings, allowing five hits and three runs
for New York, which has lost six of seven.
"I never expected Giles to score like that," Martinez said.
"We are facing a smart team. Obviously, they are on top of their
Rafael Furcal led off the Atlanta first with a ground-rule
double, advanced to third on Giles' fly to right and scored on
Andruw Jones' fielder's choice.
In the third, Furcal reached on an infield single, moved to
second on Giles' walk and advanced to third on a fielder's choice
grounder by Chipper Jones. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Andruw
Jones, who has a league-leading 114 RBI.
Smoltz pitched out of trouble in the first three innings,
stranding a baserunner at third each time.
"Facing a guy like Smoltz, you need to be as sharp as you can
be," Martinez said. "Give them credit. They got the double play
when they needed it."
Martinez had gone 6-1 with 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts
following a loss, but he dropped to 2-2 against Atlanta with a 2.26
ERA in four starts this year. Overall against the Braves, Martinez
fell to 7-8 with a 3.30 ERA in 23 career appearances.
"They just scratch out runs," Mets manager Willie Randolph
said of the Braves. "They didn't do anything dramatic. They put
the ball in play and execute."
Martinez was coming off an 8-2 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 31
when he tied a career-worst by allowing four homers.
Smoltz improved to 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against
the Mets this year.
New York 2B Kaz Matsui is 7-for-14 with a double and two
triples in his last four games. ... Smoltz threw 109 pitches, 75
strikes. ... Martinez threw 102 pitches, 64 strikes. ... RHP Aaron
Heilman held the Braves scoreless in the seventh and RHP Shingo
Takatsu did the same in the eighth.