Francoeur homer backs Smoltz in Braves victory

ATLANTA (AP) -- Brian McCann's two-out single in the seventh was
only Atlanta's fourth hit against Aaron Harang. With Jeff Francoeur
coming up, McCann said he knew the game was not over.

Francoeur hit a two-run homer to give Atlanta the lead and John
Smoltz drove in a run and pitched eight strong innings to lead the
Braves past Harang and the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 Saturday night.

"He's been doing it since he was 12," McCann said of
Francoeur, his roommate and childhood friend in the Duluth area
near Atlanta.

"There's just something about him," McCann said. "No one
knows what it is, but when the game is on the line, not many are
better than Francoeur. He has a flair for the dramatic."

Francoeur's homer gave him 35 RBI with two outs this season. He
began the day tied with Boston's David Ortiz for the major league
lead with 33.

"I don't know what it is," Francoeur said of his production
with two outs. "It's something I pride myself in. Obviously it's
being at the right place at the right time. I really wanted to get
up that inning. I like to be up in those situations."

Harang was working on a three-hit shutout through six innings
before the Braves broke through for their sixth win in nine games
on the homestand.

Francoeur's homer skipped over the top of the center-field wall,
giving the Braves a 2-1 lead and capping an emotional day for the
second-year player and his family. Earlier Saturday, Francoeur
attended the funeral for his maternal grandfather.

"It was a big night for me after all I've been through today,"
Francoeur said. "It was a glum day. You kind of sit out there in
the outfield, to be honest with you, your mind isn't 100 percent on
baseball. You feel kind of lacking. To be able to do something like
that was exciting."

Added Francoeur of his family: "Hopefully I did a little
something good for them tonight."

After Francoeur's homer, Adam LaRoche hit a fly ball into
shallow left field which shortstop Felipe Lopez lost in the lights,
and the ball dropped in for a double. Harang issued an intentional
walk to Ryan Langerhans before Smoltz spoiled the strategy with a
run-scoring single up the middle, his second hit of the game, for
the 3-1 lead.

Smoltz (6-5) won his second straight start, giving up six hits
and one run in eight innings. He matched his season high with 10
strikeouts and issued only one walk.

"He's as good as anybody in the league," Reds left fielder
Austin Kearns said.

Smoltz said he couldn't remember facing a power hitter like Adam
Dunn as a No. 2 hitter.

"Their lineup is loaded, you have to find a way to pitch around
them," Smoltz said.

Smoltz retired the Reds in order in the seventh and eighth
innings. He threw 120 pitches in eight innings, and Ken Ray got the
final three outs for his fifth save in eight chances.

Harang (9-6) earned his NL-leading fourth complete game but was
denied his attempt to become the first Reds pitcher with 10 wins at
the All-Star break since Jimmy Haynes in 2002. Harang gave up nine
hits and four runs in eight innings.

"That was a tough one to take," Harang said. "That one inning
hurt me. I tried not to make any mistakes. One mistake can kill you
in a game like this, and I made a mistake to Francoeur."

Harang said Francoeur hit a slider, down and away.

"I didn't think it was that bad," Harang said.

The Reds fell to three games behind first-place St. Louis in the
NL Central and only one game ahead of third-place Milwaukee.

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Ken Griffey
Jr. hit a one-out double over the reach of Andruw Jones in center
field. Griffey moved to third on a single by Kearns and
scored on Scott Hatteberg's fly ball to deep center.

A call by first base umpire Mark Wegner hurt the Braves' hopes
of pulling even in the bottom of the fourth. After Marcus Giles led
off with a double and Edgar Renteria walked, the Reds turned a
double play on Chipper Jones' grounder to Lopez, who flipped the
ball to second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Wegner called Jones out at first, but replays indicated Jones
beat the throw from Phillips. Harang struck out Andruw Jones to end
the inning, leaving Giles stranded at third.

Chipper Jones hit a one-out triple in the eighth, giving him 10
straight games with an extra-base hit, an Atlanta record. Jones
scored on McCann's double to right for a 4-1 lead.

Game Notes
Francoeur's homer, his 16th, was his first since June 18.
... By striking out the side in the first inning, Smoltz passed
David Cone for 20th place on the all-time list. Smoltz began the
night one strikeout behind Cone's 2,668. ... Renteria's
first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 13 games.