ATLANTA (AP) – Rookie Jeff Francoeur homered twice, Marcus Giles hit a two-run double in a three-run fourth inning, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.

Francoeur, who had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning double Wednesday night, had his first multihomer game as he continued to establish himself as a regular in the Braves’ lineup.

With the sweep, the Braves stretched their lead over Washington to three games in the NL East after the teams entered the series tied for first place. The loss left Washington only a half-game ahead of Houston in the wild-card race, pending the Astros’ Thursday night game against the New York Mets.

Jose Vidro hit a two-run homer, his sixth, for the Nationals, who are only 6-16 since leading the NL East by 51/2 games on July 2.

Jorge Sosa (6-1) gave up seven hits and two runs with two walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings. Chris Reitsma got the final three outs for his 12th save in 16 chances.

Giles and Rafael Furcal each had three hits for the Braves, but they were overshadowed by Francoeur.

Called up from Double-A Mississippi on July 7, Francoeur had his first start against a right-handed pitcher Tuesday night and he responded with three hits. He is batting .441 (15-for-34).

Francoeur started again Thursday against right-hander Ryan Drese (3-4) as Braves manager Bobby Cox took left fielder Kelly Johnson out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 16. Ryan Langerhans, who had been sharing time with Francoeur in right field, moved to left.

Francoeur hit a fourth-inning homer off Drese and a sixth-inning shot, his fifth, off reliever Sunny Kim.

Francoeur’s first homer triggered a three-run fourth inning. Langerhans followed with a double, and after Drese walked Furcal, Giles hit a two-run double to center.

Furcal led off the third with a triple to right and scored one out later when third baseman Vinny Castilla fielded a grounder by Chipper Jones and threw to the plate. Catcher Brian Schneider missed the throw for an error, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Sosa loaded the bases in the fifth, giving up a double to Nick Johnson before walking Schneider and Cristian Guzman. Pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga’s infield hit drove in Johnson.

The Nationals added a second run in the sixth when Vidro doubled and scored on Jose Guillen’s single to right.

Sosa was lifted after giving up a third straight hit, a single to Johnson, but reliever Jay Powell pitched out of the jam.

Francoeur’s second homer pushed the Braves’ lead to 5-2, but the Nationals pulled within 5-4 with Vidro’s two-run homer off Jim Brower in the seventh inning.

Notes: Castilla snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a second-inning infield single. … Nationals manager Frank Robinson came out for a long argument with plate umpire Gerry Davis after the first pitch from Powell in the sixth inning. On Tuesday, Robinson showed reporters a DVD of Powell’s delivery, in which Powell picks up his right foot twice before throwing a pitch. Robinson believes Powell balks before every pitch, but Davis was not swayed by the argument.

AP-ES-07-28-05 1601EDT


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