Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards, Jordan Smoke Smoltz Six-RBI Game Helps to End Hurler's Streak

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards, Jordan Smoke Smoltz Six-RBI Game Helps to End Hurler's Streak

Article excerpt

John Smoltz, the Atlanta Braves' righthander, has been the hot news in baseball this season, putting together the longest winning streak (14) since 1972, the year the Cardinals made Steve Carlton their gift to Philadelphia.

But it was another Atlanta-area resident, Stone Mountain-based Brian Jordan, who was the central figure Monday night. The Cardinals, yo-yoing to the top of the National League Central Division again, made a little history in the process by beating Smoltz 9-2, and Jordan was mostly the reason, knocking in a career-high six runs.

The capper, which was also Smoltz's last pitch, was a three-run homer by Jordan in the seventh inning after John Mabry had been walked intentionally. Jordan, hitting .400 (22 for 55) with men in scoring po sition, also drove in two runs with a first-inning single and had a sacrifice fly in the third.

Smoltz (14-2) gave up a season-high eight runs in 6 1/3 innings. But then, he almost never beats the Cardinals and hasn't since July 22, 1992. He is 4-9 against them in his career and it took little time for the Cardinals to jump on him Monday night. They scored three runs in the first, and the Braves' winning streak was about to end at six.

Manager Tony La Russa said, "No doubt that with the quality of the competition, you recognize you have to raise your level of play."

Ray Lankford, who had three hits, said the Cardinals' aggression in the first inning was by design. "We talked about it - jumping on that first pitch," he said. "Guys were up there hacking. And guys really didn't fall behind where he could use that good slider and good curveball."

Former Braves star Ron Gant, who also makes his home here, drilled a first-pitch fastball over the center-field wall for his eighth homer of the season and the 11th leadoff homer of his career. Gant has three hits against Smoltz in his career, two of them homers.

"When he threw fastballs, we jumped on them," Gant said. "That's the way you have to approach him. You can't be looking for a slider, because if you are, you're done."

Ozzie Smith, a .339 batter against Smoltz in his career, hit a 1-0 fastball for a single and Lankford also singled on the first pitch. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Gary Gaetti walked, loading the bases.

Smoltz, the major-league leader in strikeouts, fanned Mabry. But Jordan, who hit .042 with men in scoring position two years ago, singled to left center.

"I've learned to be patient," Jordan said, adding, "I don't want to lead off. I feel I'm too good with men in scoring position."

Andy Benes, 4-10 in his career against the Braves, threatened to give that three-run lead back in the Atlanta first. Marquis Grissom doubled and Mark Lemke singled for a quick run. Singles by Fred McGriff and Ryan Klesko loaded the bases with one out, prompting a hurried visit to Benes from pitching coach Dave Duncan. …

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