- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001


ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves needed a little offense from someone other than Chipper Jones or Brian Jordan.

Wes Helms provided it.

Helms, now playing regularly for the Braves, homered and drove in three runs to lead Atlanta to a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Expos last night.

The Braves won for just the fourth time in 10 games, yet still moved back into sole possession of first place in the NL East. Philadelphia dropped a game back with a 7-5 loss to the New York Mets.

"We can't go back this time," said Helms, who hit a two-run homer in the fifth to break Atlanta's 17-inning scoreless streak. "Hopefully, if we can get two or three up, we won't hit a wall."

Tom Glavine (12-7) allowed three runs in the first inning, then shut out the Expos for the next six on a rainy night that drew 22,327 the smallest crowd in Turner Field's five-year history.

"It's been a while since I've been here during a game where you could hear everything everyone was saying," Glavine said. "But the objective is the same whether there's 10 people in the stands or 50,000."

The Braves' anemic offense has relied heavily on Jones and Jordan. This time, however, Atlanta managed to overcome a 3-0 deficit with those two combining for just one meaningless hit.

Helms snapped a 14-of-89 (.157) slump while starting his fourth straight game at first base. The Braves have apparently given up on the idea of converting Ken Caminiti to that position.

"Everybody looks to Chipper and Brian," Glavine said. "If I was pitching against us, I wouldn't let those guys beat me. We've been looking for someone to step up, and tonight it was Wes. We can't rely on Chipper and Brian to do everything."

Glavine allowed six hits in seven innings before giving way to Steve Karsay and John Smoltz. Each pitched a scoreless inning, with Smoltz picking up his third save and looking more and more like Atlanta's closer.

"I don't like it all, at least not when I'm in the other dugout," Montreal manager Jeff Torborg said. "When he throws that 95 mph split-finger, the bottom falls out."

Javy Lopez and Helms hit back-to-back, run-scoring doubles in the sixth off Tony Armas (9-12), breaking a 3-3 tie.

Armas limited the Braves to just one hit through the fourth, stretching Atlanta's scoreless streak to 17 innings since Paul Bako's two-run double Monday against Los Angeles.

The Braves finally broke through in the fifth, putting up three runs with the help of two Montreal miscues.

The slow-footed Lopez reached base when third baseman Mike Mordecai threw over the head of first baseman Lee Stevens on a routine grounder.

"I thought it was going in the stands when I threw it, but since I don't have a very strong arm it barely got over his head," Mordecai quipped. "You give them an extra out, they'll take advantage of it."

Helms worked the count to 3-2 before Armas hung a slider and watched it land in the left-field seats. The 418-foot drive, which nearly clipped the second deck, was Helms' eighth homer of the season.

"It feels good to do it," he said. "I don't care if it's one row out or 10 rows, it's all a home run."

Rey Sanchez followed with a single and moved to second on Glavine's sacrifice. Sanchez scored when right fielder Vladimir Guerrero tried to barehand Marcus Giles' bloop single.

Sanchez had already stopped at third, but he was waved in when the ball skipped away from Guerrero.

Four of the first five Montreal batters reached base against Glavine. Orlando Cabrera hit a two-run double, and Stevens added an RBI groundout.

After the early trouble, which prompted a trip to the mound from pitching coach Leo Mazzone, Glavine allowed only one of the next 16 hitters to reach base. Geoff Blum led off the fourth with a single but was erased on a double play.

Glavine won for the first time since Aug. 2 after going 0-2 with two no-decisions his previous four starts. He struck out six and walked only one.

Armas has lost seven of nine decisions.

"When they give you a 3-0 lead, you've got to go out there and pitch," he said. "You can't give up four or five runs."

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