ATLANTA (AP) – Rafael Furcal homered from both sides of the plate, John Smoltz won his eighth straight decision and Marcus Giles had four hits, leading the Atlanta Braves over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 Sunday to cap a successful July.

Atlanta was 41/2 games off the NL East lead at the end of June, then went 18-8 and began Sunday with a season-high five-game division lead. The Braves are 6-0 on a homestand that ends with Monday’s finale of the four-game series against Pittsburgh.

Smoltz (12-5), who hasn’t lost since June 6 against the Los Angeles Angels, gave up three runs and eight hits in eight innings. Chris Reitsma pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 18 chances, allowing a run-scoring single to Freddy Sanchez before ending the game by striking out Matt Lawton.

John Grabow (2-1) gave up two runs and three hits in one-third of an inning for the Pirates, who have gone 14-31 since June 11, when they were 30-30.

Furcal had three hits of Atlanta’s 16 hits and scored three runs. He homered off Josh Fogg batting left-handed leading off the fifth, tying the score 3-all. He homered batting right-handed against Grabow leading off the seventh for a 4-3 lead.

It was the second time in his career Furcal homered from both sides of the plate. He also accomplished the feat on April 15 at Philadelphia.

Chippers Jones’ RBI single and Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly put Atlanta ahead 2-0 in the first.

Pittsburgh went ahead 3-2 in the fourth on Daryle Ward’s RBI double, Jack Wilson’s run-scoring single and Fogg’s RBI grounder.

Fogg gave up three runs and 11 hits in six innings.

Pinch-hitter Julio Franco added an RBI single off Rick White in the eighth.

Notes: Furcal has hits in 27 of his last 32 games, including six straight. … Giles had his second four-hit game this month and third this season. He had four hits against Chicago on July 7 and at Colorado on May 10.

AP-ES-07-31-05 1607EDT


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