- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

BOSTON (AP) Injuries to starting pitchers don't bother the Atlanta Braves, not with the best bullpen in baseball ready to take over.
Kevin Millwood left the game with a blister one day after Greg Maddux's outing was cut short by a sore calf, but the Braves beat the Boston Red Sox for the second straight game, 2-1 yesterday behind Gary Sheffield's two-run homer.
"With our bullpen, it makes it easier to come out of a game," Millwood said after striking out a season-high 10 batters in 5⅔ innings. "You give them a lead late in the game, and it seems like they don't give it up."
The Braves, 36-1 when leading after the seventh inning, have a major league-best 2.97 ERA overall and a 2.34 ERA among their relievers. Yesterday relievers Kevin Gryboski, Mike Remlinger, Darren Holmes and John Smoltz gave up one walk, two hits and no runs in 3⅓ innings as Smoltz got his 27th save in 30 chances and second in two days.
"If you have a deep pen, you're way ahead of the game. And if you have good starters, you're really way ahead of the game," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "You can't just have starters and no bullpen. That's why Seattle never won for years."
Millwood (5-5) allowed four hits and one walk before leaving with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand after Nomar Garciaparra's two-out double in the sixth. Gryboski then gave up Manny Ramirez's RBI single, but Boston managed just one hit the rest of the way.
"Maddux was awesome last night. Millwood was virtually unhittable," said Johnny Damon, who is in a 1-for-14 slump and struck out twice. Maddux worked five innings in Atlanta's 4-2 win.
The Red Sox, one game behind the New York Yankees in the American League East, can't blame their lack of offense in their current 1-5 slide only on opposing pitchers.
"It really doesn't matter who's out there pitching. It doesn't matter if it's a Cy Young Award winner," Boston's Lou Merloni said. "We have to go out and be aggressive."
Fortunately for the Red Sox, 3-11 against the Braves at Fenway Park and 0-2 this season, they have just one home game left against Atlanta today. Boston is 18-18 at home overall and 3-8 in its last 11 games.
"When you're playing the top teams in the league, .500 isn't bad," Brian Daubach said, "but there's no reason for us to be losing this many at home."
Sheffield's 13th homer of the season in the third off Derek Lowe (11-4) was one reason. It helped the Braves set a team record for wins in June at 20-5. And the bullpen held up after Millwood left.
"Millwood was absolutely terrific," Cox said. "I should have pulled him out about two pitches before I did. I should have went out there. I tried to let him get the last out [of the sixth], but it just blistered up and was killing him on every pitch."
Millwood, who isn't expected to miss a start, struck out four batters in a row and had at least one strikeout in each of his innings as the Braves continued to win in their ancestral home.
The Atlanta franchise started in Boston in 1876 and had several nicknames before becoming the Braves in 1912. It played in several parks in Boston before moving to Milwaukee for the 1953 season and then to Atlanta in 1966.
Since interleague play began, the Braves are 19-10 against the Red Sox with one meeting left this season.
Lowe suffered his second consecutive loss despite seven innings in which he struck out six and allowed two walks and six hits. After not allowing a homer in his first 12 starts, he gave up his fourth in his last four to Sheffield.

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