Smoltz blanks Marlins

Juneau's Bentz gives up two-run homer to Andruw Jones

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ATLANTA - John Smoltz never forgot how the Florida Marlins battered him in the season opener.

"I won't call it an embarrassing moment, but a lot of people flew in for that game," Smoltz said after pitching the Atlanta Braves past Florida 5-0 Tuesday night. "A lot of those same people were at the game tonight. I wanted them to see at least more than an inning and two-thirds."

Smoltz threw his first shutout in six years and Andruw Jones hit his 20th homer for the Braves. It was also Smoltz's second complete game in three starts.

"I've been grinding it trying to do something like this," he said. "I just feel like I'm under control with everything. I don't think too far ahead in the game."

Smoltz (7-5) fanned Matt Treanor in the seventh to pass Jack Morris for 28th place on the career strikeout list with 2,479. The Atlanta right-hander will always share a common bond with Morris after they combined for 17 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Though Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout in the Minnesota Twins' 1-0 victory that night, Smoltz learned a lot from the experience.

"It's pretty neat," Smoltz said. "Just following his career, he was a battler. I feel like I'm a little bit in his footsteps on the mound. That's how I feel. I'm not going to give in. This has not been a year where I go out and try to strike guys out. I think that's allowed me to go deep in the game so many times in a row."

The 38-year-old Smoltz, who earned 154 saves as Atlanta's closer before returning to the rotation this year, allowed just five hits in his 15th career shutout.

Jones' two-run shot in the seventh off Florida reliever Chad Bentz of Juneau ended the scoring. Bentz, a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, gave up two hits and two runs in one inning of work.

Smoltz, who struck out six and walked two, won his third straight start to erase memories of the 9-0 blowout loss at Florida in the season opener. The 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner improved to 7-4 since opening day and lowered his ERA during that span of 107 2/3 innings to 2.42.

The last time Smoltz pitched a shutout was April 30, 1999, at Cincinnati. He missed the 2000 season after injuring his right elbow in spring training and undergoing Tommy John surgery.

A.J. Burnett (4-5) allowed six hits, three runs and three walks in six innings for Florida. The right-hander struck out four as he dropped to 1-4 in his last nine starts.

"No matter how hard you throw, you've got to hit your spots," said Burnett, who hit 98 mph a couple of times in the first three innings. "When I threw it down the middle, they hit it. We have to figure out a way to win. I do, at least."

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