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Smoltz and Braves Quickly Left Disappointed

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From Associated Press

John Smoltz remained winless in six starts since June 18 as the Pirates took advantage of second baseman Bret Boone’s throwing error in a 3-2 victory Wednesday at Pittsburgh to drop the Atlanta Braves two games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.

“We have to get some wins, anyway, anyhow,” Smoltz (8-5) said after the 1-hour, 48-minute game. “It doesn’t matter if I pitch well and we lose. I’d rather pitch bad and have us win the game. This is frustrating.”

Smoltz, 0-3 during the drought, was on the disabled list from July 5-24 because of a strained right elbow. He gave up one earned run and five hits in seven innings, but Boone’s wild throw on a possible double-play ball in the third set up two unearned runs.

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Pirate pitcher Todd Ritchie singled to open the third and Martin hit a grounder to Boone, who threw the ball into left field. Nunez bunted home a run and Brian Giles followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0.

“There are two ways to play that,” Boone said. “You can lay back and get one safe out at first or you can be aggressive and try to get two. I approach it aggressively and I’ll approach it the same way if the same situation comes up tomorrow.”

Ritchie (10-7) gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings. Mike Williams pitched the ninth for his 16th save.

Williams got a big assist from shortstop Abraham Nunez, who made a spectacular play to throw out Boone to start the ninth.

Arizona 8, San Francisco 4--Steve Finley hit two of the Diamondbacks’ five home runs in a victory at Phoenix.

The Diamondbacks took two of three from San Francisco to pull 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Giants in the NL West.

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Jay Bell, Finley and Luis Gonzalez hit home runs in a five-run first inning against 24-year-old right-hander Joe Nathan (2-2), who was recalled from triple-A Fresno to start in place of struggling Mark Gardner.

Gardner replaced Nathan in the second inning and gave up a leadoff home run to pitcher Brian Anderson (4-2), the first homer of the left-hander’s major league career.

Chicago 5, Montreal 1--Sammy Sosa stayed tied with Mark McGwire in the home-run chase with a major league-leading 42nd homer and struggling Steve Trachsel pitched a five-hitter as the Cubs won at Chicago.

Trachsel (4-14), who leads the majors in losses, won for only the second time in his last 15 starts.

Cincinnati 6, Colorado 3--Denny Neagle won his second consecutive start and Barry Larkin had a two-run triple in the Reds’ victory over the fading Rockies at Cincinnati.

While the Reds won for the ninth time in 11 games to move 1 1/2 game behind Houston in the NL Central, the Rockies fell 13 games under .500 for the second time this season.

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Neagle (2-3) has made two solid starts since returning from his second stay on the disabled list because of a weak pitching shoulder.

Philadelphia 4, Florida 1--Paul Byrd (13-6) gave up one run in 7 2/3 innings and Rico Brogna hit his second homer in as many nights as the Phillies won at Miami.

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