Braves hold off Phillies


ATLANTA – Marcus Giles hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning and the Atlanta Braves finally got a solid effort from a starting pitcher, winning their home opener 5-3 over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves, coming off a 3-4 West Coast trip to start the season, made their Turner Field debut before a sellout crowd of 47,332 that included former President Carter, who wore a Braves cap and watched from a box next to the Atlanta dugout with his wife, Rosalyn.

Giles’ first homer and RBI of the season came in the seventh off Ryan Franklin (0-1) after the Phillies rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Braves’ bullpen.

That cost starter John Thomson a win, but it didn’t diminish what he did to boost Atlanta’s beleaguered rotation. He went five strong innings in his first start of the season, limiting the Phillies to an unearned run.

He also produced at the plate with two hits, including a two-run double in the fourth that broke up a scoreless game.

Through the first seven games, Atlanta’s starters had an ERA of 10.09 – giving up 34 runs in 30 1-3 innings. Not surprisingly, the Braves ranked last in the NL with an ERA of 7.58 – a startling spot for a team that usually ranks at or near the top of the league in pitching.

Thomson started the year in the bullpen, but he was forced into the rotation when Horacio Ramirez went on the disabled list last week.

Chris Reitsma, who blew a lead the previous day by giving up two ninth-inning runs in San Francisco, was booed when he entered the game in the ninth. But he pitched a scoreless inning for his third save in four chances.

Atlanta jumped ahead in the fourth with a two-out rally. Brian McCann and Wilson Betemit singled before Thomson drove a pitch from Brett Myers over the head of center fielder Aaron Roward for a bases-clearing double.

Philadelphia picked up an unearned run in the fifth when Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur let Rowand’s single skip by him and roll to the wall. Jimmy Rollins scored all the way from first to make it 2-1.

Andruw Jones restored the Braves’ two-run lead with a 410-foot homer to center field off Myers in the bottom half, producing another two-out run for Atlanta. Myers went five innings, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out six.

Thomson came out after throwing 72 pitches, and the Braves’ bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Mike Remlinger got only one out in the sixth before Lance Cormier gave up a run-scoring single to David Bell.

Philadelphia tied it up in the seventh on Bobby Abreu’s sacrifice fly off Oscar Villareal (3-0), who broke a tie with Brad Penny of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL lead in wins by blowing one for Thomson.

Rollins of the Phillies went 3-for-4 with a walk and has now hit safely in 42 of his 42 game. The only hitless game came last week, of course, snapping his 38-game streak that stretched back to last season.

Now, he’s got a new streak going, hitting safely in four straight.

Then there’s Francouer, who remained mired in a miserable slump to start the season. Last year’s rookie sensation went 0-for-4 and is now just 2-of-33 (.061) on the season.

Notes: The Braves celebrated their 40th anniversary in Atlanta during opening night ceremonies before the game. Actually, though, this is their 41st season. The team moved from Milwaukee before the 1966 season. … Singer Edwin McCain, a native Atlantan, performed the national anthem, with the last part of the song drowned out by four F-18 Hornets that roared over Turner Field. … NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson attended the game. … It was Cormier vs. Cormier. Lance Cormier came on to pitch for the Braves in the sixth inning, and Rheal Cormier took over for the Phillies in the bottom half. The two are not related. … Thomson last two-RBI game came on May 1, 2004, at Colorado.

AP-ES-04-10-06 2207EDT