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The Great American Pastime

"Perhaps it was an appearance in the stands by reknowned superhero Keeferman (with three associates identified only by their nicknames "Boo", "Griff", and "Josh") that inspired the Braves' turn-around. Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs crushed them Friday and jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning Saturday. Then the Braves did something they haven't done much at home lately.

They fought back.

[As originally reported by David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his marvelous piece SCORING OUTBURST ENDS BRAVES SKID]

They battered Jason Marquis for six runs in the first two innings and rolled to a wild and much-needed 9-5 win against Chicago Saturday night before a sellout crowd at Turner Field, where sparks flew from the opening pitch.

Edgar Renteria went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs and Andruw Jones homered as the Braves snapped a season-high four-game losing streak and won for only the second time in their past 10 games at Turner Field.

"Very good win for us; we really needed a win like that," said Tim Hudson, who hit Soriano with the first pitch of the game and left after getting struck by a line drive on his left shin in the third inning.

The Braves fought back before 51,816 (including the aforementioned Keeferman & sidekicks), the fourth-largest regular-season crowd in 11 years at Turner Field. Reliever Peter Moylan (2-1) pitched three scoreless innings, and Bob Wickman worked a scoreless ninth in his 800th career appearance.

The Braves scored more runs in the second inning (four) than they had in three consecutive losses against the Cubs, including last Sunday's series finale at Wrigley Field and the first two games of this four-game series.

Hudson had a lump and a bruise on his left shin, but X-rays were negative and he said he expects to make his next scheduled start Thursday at Minnesota.

It was an eventful night for the right-hander, who hit Soriano with his first pitch, after Soriano hit three homers off Lance Cormier in his first three at-bats in Friday night's 9-1 Cubs rout.

"Obviously I wasn't trying to hit the guy," Hudson said. "Was I trying to throw a pitch in off the plate? Sure. He's been hot, and he's killed us.

"He's pretty close to the plate. A guy who hits home runs and crowds the plate, they're going to get hit now and then."

Soriano hit .389 with 14 homers and 30 RBIs in his past 29 games against the Braves before Saturday, including a two-homer game against Hudson in 2005 at Texas when Soriano played for the Rangers.

Soriano was 11-for-18 with two triples and five homers in the past four games against the Braves, and started the first two games of the series with a triple Thursday and a first-pitch homer Friday.

"He was not trying to hit Soriano," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He tried to go in on him and get him off the plate some."

Hudson walked the next batter and Derrek Lee hit a run-scoring single before the first out of the game. After an intentional walk to Jacque Jones, RBI singles by Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead.

But considering their history against former Atlanta right-hander Marquis, the Braves had to know they weren't out of it.

Marquis was 0-2 with a 14.40 ERA in three career starts against the Braves before Saturday, when he lasted 1 2/3 innings and was charged with six runs (two earned), four hits, three walks and a costly throwing error.

Hudson got no decision and was charged with five runs and five hits in two-plus innings, leaving him with one win and a 7.86 ERA in his past five starts. He was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in his first nine.

Willie Harris singled in the Braves' first inning and Jones hit a two-run, two-out homer, his fifth in his 11th career at-bat against Marquis.

"It's tough when they jump right on you in the first inning," Jones said, "but we told [Hudson], just hold it right there and we're going to get back in the game."

Jones also had an RBI single in the four-run second inning and a spectacular dive-and-roll catch in center field in the seventh. He's 9-for-12 with 14 RBIs in his career against Marquis.

Scott Thorman started the Braves' second inning by reaching on Marquis' error, and rookie Yunel Escobar drew a walk. After a sacrifice, Kelly Johnson drove in a run with a groundout.

Harris walked before Renteria and Jones hit back-to-back singles to give the Braves a 5-4 lead and sent Marquis to the showers.

Brian McCann greeted reliever Sean Gallagher with another RBI single.

Sidenote: At the conclusion of the game a young fan, noticing Griff's cheering for the visiting team throughout the evening, quipped: "A Cubs fan, huh? I bet he's got a lot of great memories. -TONIGHT ISN'T ONE OF THEM." "