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Deals Only Serve to Make Braves Better

May 01, 1997|From Associated Press

Remember the last week or so of spring training, when Atlanta was sending David Justice, Marquis Grissom and Jermaine Dye to new homes and everybody was asking what in the world the Braves were doing?

They were remolding a team that has won a major league-record 19 games in April.

Any more questions?

Fred McGriff homered twice and Michael Tucker had five hits Wednesday night for the Braves, who won, 12-3, at Cincinnati to finish the month with a 19-6 record, best in franchise history.

"In spring training we made trades, so it was important for us to get off to a good start," McGriff said. "If we would get off to a bad start, then guys would start having doubts."

At the other end of the spectrum, he Reds have lost 12 of 14 to finish the month with a franchise-record 18 defeats.

The strain is showing. Manager Ray Knight pounded his desk with his fist to make points and was uncharacteristically terse with reporters. Utility player Lenny Harris was overheard screaming in the clubhouse before the doors were opened.

"It was just a motivational speech," Harris said. "When I came in here tonight, everybody was just sitting there looking at each other. It's a matter of attitude. When we hit that front door, we've got to be thinking about winning. A lot of guys are feeling down and out, but there's a lot of baseball left."

Said Knight: "I heard [Harris] was upset. You can't play the game without emotion. I'm sick and tired of it. You need intensity, whether it means drilling somebody or running over somebody at second base or whatever."

The Reds' Kent Mercker (1-3) lost for the third time in a row because he couldn't hold leads of 2-0 and 3-1 against his former teammates.

New York 6, San Diego 2--The Padres became victims for the eighth time in a row when Carlos Baerga scored in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly to break a tie game at New York.

The Mets, who won their fourth in a row, scored twice in the sixth for a 3-2 lead.

Lance Johnson led off the inning with a single and Baerga, in the game because second baseman Manny Alexander was carried off on a stretcher because of a bruised knee, also singled. A single by John Olerud loaded the bases, and Todd Hundley drew a walk from Sterling Hitchcock (2-2) that made it 2-2.

Butch Huskey followed with a fly ball to short right field. Second baseman Quilvio Veras made the catch just in front of right fielder Tony Gwynn, but had no play on Baerga.

San Francisco 6, Pittsburgh 1--Jeff Kent hit a grand slam in the first inning in support of Mark Gardner, who coasted through a three-hit, complete-game victory at Pittsburgh.

The surprising Giants, coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season, finished 17-7 in April, their best beginning since they were 18-6 in 1973.

San Francisco's 8-2 road record is the best in the NL.

Kent's third grand slam in his career, off Jon Lieber (1-2), gave Gardner (2-1) all the support he needed to pitch his first complete game of the season and the Giants' second. He struck out 11 and walked none, retiring the first nine hitters and the last 15.

Montreal 8, Houston 6--David Segui homered and drove in four runs, and Mark Grudzielanek had four singles to extend his hitting streak to 15 games for the Expos, who won at Montreal.

They overcame a 4-1 deficit to end a three-game losing streak.

Carlos Perez (4-1) got the win, despite giving up five runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. He improved to 12-3 in 19 lifetime appearances at Olympic Stadium.

Lee Smith gave up a two-out RBI single to Luis Gonzalez in the ninth inning before Ugueth Urbina came in and struck out Jeff Bagwell for his second save.

Grudzielanek went four for five and is 27 for 59 (.458) during his hitting streak, which has raised his average to .337.

St. Louis 6, Florida 2--Alan Benes struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings and Willie McGee had a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning for the Cardinals, who ended Florida's five-game winning streak with a victory at St. Louis.

The Cardinals won their fourth in a row, making them 11-6 since an 0-6 start.

Benes (3-2) gave up eight hits and two runs before leaving in the seventh inning.

He struck out the side in the first and second, although he also gave up three hits in that span. He walked the bases loaded in the fourth and gave up two runs in the fifth when he walked Gary Sheffield with one out and Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou followed with consecutive doubles.

Alou's 30 RBIs in April ties a team record for RBIs in a month. Sheffield had 30 last August.





Player Team Performance Michael Tucker Atlanta 5 for 6, 5 RBIs, three-run homer Larry Walker Colorado homer, 3 RBIs; 11 homers in April ties NL record M. Grudzielanek Montreal 4 for 5, 15-game hitting streak David Segui Montreal 3 for 4, homer, 4 RBIs

Player Team's Result Michael Tucker Win Larry Walker Win M. Grudzielanek Win David Segui Win




Player Team Performance Team's Result Mark Gardner San Francisco 9 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 11 strikeouts Win Bobby Jones New York 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs Win


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