Hampton gives rotation lift; Braves beat Giants

Published 8:48 am Sunday, August 17, 2008

ATLANTA – Cast in the unlikely role of last man standing among the Braves’ four former 20-game winners, Mike Hampton prospered.

Hampton gave up two runs in six innings and Atlanta beat the San Francisco Giants 11-5 on Saturday night to end a five-game losing streak, including four straight at Turner Field.

Hampton gave the Atlanta rotation a lift on the day 300-game winner Tom Glavine confirmed he’ll miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury. John Smoltz and Tim Hudson already have had season-ending surgeries.

“It’s just been a weird year; I don’t think anyone would expect it,” Hampton said. “I wouldn’t wish it on any staff to go through.”

Hampton knows more than he cares to about season-ending surgeries.

Hampton (2-1) missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons with elbow surgeries and had his 2008 debut pushed back almost four months by other injuries. In his fifth start since returning, he allowed seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

“For him to come back and hopefully do this for us is going to be nice,” Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. “He pitched great. Hopefully he’ll do it the rest of the season. Hopefully we can get him back next year and he can do it the whole year.”

Hampton earned his first win in Atlanta since Aug. 14, 2005. Each of his two wins this season has come against the Giants.

He said he doesn’t consider his comeback complete.

“Without a doubt, the last six weeks are huge for me, not only prove to myself but to everybody else that I’m healthy and can still get guys out,” he said.

Francoeur, who hit eighth and began the night with a .227 batting average, had his first four-hit game of the season and drove in two runs two days after he had a three-hit game.

“I think he’s found something,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who said each of Francoeur’s four hits “were all hit hard.”

Greg Norton hit a two-run homer and Omar Infante also drove in two runs with two hits for Atlanta.

The Giants lost for the fifth time in six games. They have allowed 39 runs in the five losses.

San Francisco right hander Matt Palmer gave up seven hits and six runs in 2 1-3 innings in his major league debut. Palmer (0-1) started for Jonathan Sanchez, who was placed on the disabled list because of a strained left shoulder.

“Matt’s game is command and getting ahead. It wasn’t there for him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Whether nerves played a part, I don’t know. But that was a rough night for the staff. It makes it a little more difficult when your long man starts and we had to go get him early.”

Palmer is the club-record 15th rookie to make his major league debut with the Giants this season. The last team to have 15 players appear in their first major league games before September was the 1954 Philadelphia Athletics, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Hampton earned his second win in his last three starts one day after Glavine returned to the disabled list with a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow.

Glavine said Saturday he plans to visit Dr. James Andrews in Alabama next week and said he would retire if elbow ligament replacement surgery is needed. Glavine expects to have surgery to repair the tendon. Smoltz has had shoulder surgery that could end his career, and Hudson had elbow ligament replacement surgery on Aug. 8.

“Trust me, I’ve been through it,” Hampton said. “I just hope everybody heals and can pitch if they have the opportunity.”

Francoeur and Gregor Blanco had run-scoring hits off Palmer in the second before the Braves knocked the rookie out of the game by sending 10 batters to the plate in their four-run third. Infante had a RBI double, and Kelly Johnson, Francoeur and Hampton added run-scoring singles for a 6-0 lead.

Ivan Ochoa had two doubles and an RBI for the Giants.

Notes: OF Aaron Rowand, who left Thursday’s game in Houston with tightness in his lower back and missed Friday’s game in Atlanta, was 0-for-2 with a walk and a RBI. … SS Yunel Escobar, who missed one game after he was hit on his left arm by a pitch on Thursday, was hit by a pitch from Palmer on almost the same spot in the first inning. Escobar remained in the game. … RHP Jair Jurrjens, a native of Willemstad, Curacao, made a quick flight to Pennsylvania to throw out the first pitch Saturday before his hometown team lost to Matamoros, Tamaulipas in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. … The Braves have scored exactly 11 runs in four of their last five wins. They have not won a game in which they’ve scored fewer than four runs since May 24.