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REPORT: DETROIT

Clark, Tigers Spoil Day for Smoltz, 12-4

September 04, 1997|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — It was day to remember for Tony Clark, and one to forget for John Smoltz.

Clark broke out of a power slump with a home run and five runs batted in Wednesday, while Smoltz had his shortest outing in more than two years as the Detroit Tigers rolled to a 12-4 victory over Atlanta, the most runs scored against the Braves this season.

"I thought about benching him," Detroit Manager Buddy Bell said of Clark, who had only two homers in his previous 118 at-bats. "But then I thought, 'I do feel better when Tony's in there.' "

Smoltz, a Michigan native who began his professional career with the Tigers before a 1987 trade to Atlanta, lasted only 3 1/3 innings, surrendering eight runs and 10 hits.

"It was a very frustrating, agitating type of day for me," Smoltz said. "I'm just glad it wasn't on TV back in Detroit so my parents couldn't see it."

Smoltz's childhood dream was to pitch for Detroit, but the Tigers showed little respect for the personal significance of the moment or the statistics that showed Smoltz (13-11) on his best roll of the season.

The 1996 Cy Young Award winner had given up three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts, and he didn't have an outing shorter than five innings all year.

"It's a shame to work so hard for the last two months, and then basically throw it all in the hamper with one game," Smoltz said. "But it's not going to deter how well I've been throwing. I've just got to forget about it."

Willie Blair (15-6), continuing his remarkable comeback from a broken jaw, limited the Braves to eight hits over seven innings to become Detroit's first 15-game winner since Bill Gullickson in 1991. Blair has won 11 of his last 13 decisions.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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