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Deja vu, Teixeira times two

    CINCINNATI — Mark Teixeira hit a pair of homers for the second straight game, and Brian McCann had a first-inning grand slam Monday that powered the Atlanta Braves to a 14-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
    With Atlanta’s offense fully revved, right-hander Tim Hudson (15-5) settled in and stayed unbeaten for the last two months. Hudson improved to 9-0 in his last 11 starts and became the first NL pitcher to reach the 15-win mark.
    The Braves lead the NL in batting on the road, and made themselves cozy at one of the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballparks. They hit four homers in all — Andruw Jones added a two-run shot — while sending the Reds to a loss that matched their most lopsided of the season.
    McCann set the tone with his third career grand slam off left-hander Phil Dumatrait (0-2), a 26-year-old rookie who was hit hard for the second consecutive start. Dumatrait also gave up Teixeira’s three-run homer in the second inning.
    Teixeira added another three-run shot off left-hander Mike Gosling in the fourth, giving him back-to-back multihomer games. His cheeks puffed and he emphatically exhaled while connecting on that homer, which flew an estimated 430 feet.
    The Braves made a bold move on July 31, getting the power-hitting first baseman from Texas in a seven-player deal. That move has worked: Teixeira has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 18 games for the Braves.
    It hasn’t worked out so well in the standings. The Braves are still looking for a turning-point week to get them out of their rut.
    Atlanta was only two games out of first place in the NL East at the All-Star break, but has gone only 19-17 since then. The victory Monday left them five games behind the idle Mets.
    The Reds brought a little momentum into the series, coming off their first winning road trip since June of last season — yes, it’s been that bad. The good feelings were gone after one inning.
    Dumatrait, getting a chance to win a spot in the rotation for this season and beyond, retired only six batters for the second consecutive start. In his last two starts, Dumatrait has given up 13 runs in four innings.
    By the time he was done, it was evident that Hudson’s impressive run would continue. He gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings, then got the rest of the night off.
    Everyone in Atlanta’s starting lineup except Hudson had at least one hit. Teixeira added a double, Matt Diaz had three hits, Jeff Francoeur had his team-high 44th multihit game and Jones hit his 23rd homer off Eddie Guardado.
Notes: The 14 runs matched Atlanta’s season high. ... Teixeira has 18 career multihomer games. The six RBIs were one shy of his career high. ... Francoeur has 51 hits since the All-Star break. ... Hudson’s hitting streak was stopped at five games. ... LHP Chuck James will miss his scheduled start for the Braves on Tuesday because of tightness in the back of his left shoulder. LHP Jo-Jo Reyes will take his place. ... Reds C Javier Valentin extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. ... The Reds traded OF Jeff Conine to the Mets for two minor leaguers before the game. They called up INF/OF Jorge Cantu to take Conine’s roster spot. Cantu pinch-hit and singled in the eighth.

Aaron honored at Alabama Capitol
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former home run king Hank Aaron grew up a black child in segregated Mobile and learned to play baseball in a pecan grove — too poor to own a bat.
    On Monday he received a hero’s welcome at the state Capitol as he was sworn into the Alabama Academy of Honor, joining prominent politicians, industrialists and luminaries from the state such as novelist Harper Lee and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
    He compared the tribute from his home state to his greatest honors, including most valuable player trophies, a World Series title and induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.
    ‘‘I was thrilled beyond words,’’ Aaron said.
    The academy recognizes living Alabamians for accomplishments ‘‘reflecting great credit on the state.’’
    Also inducted into the academy Monday were historian and author Leah Rawls Atkins; T. Michael Goodrich, CEO and chairman of the board of the Birmingham construction firm BE&K; and James Harrison, a founder and former CEO of Harco, Inc., a chain of Alabama drug stores that was sold to Rite Aid in 1997.
    Aaron received several standing ovations from the more than 200 people who crowded into the old House chamber for the ceremony.
    ‘‘It’s good to be back in Alabama where I learned to play the game and that’s been such a big part of my life,’’ said Aaron, 73, an Atlanta businessman and executive with the Atlanta Braves.
    Aaron held the record as Major League Baseball’s all-time home run hitter from 1974, when as an Atlanta Brave he hit homer 715 to break Babe Ruth’s record, until last month when San Francisco’s Barry Bonds broke Aaron’s record of 755.
    Alabama Gov. Bob Riley hugged Aaron after he was inducted into the hall and later gave him a state lapel pin, saying the state doesn’t have a better representative.
    Despite Alabama’s segregated past, Aaron said he was never ashamed of the state.
    ‘‘I was always proud to be from Alabama,’’ Aaron said.
    During Bonds’ chase for the home run record, Aaron was often described in media reports as being a sports figure with dignity and for being a role model. He said Monday he was gratified by those descriptions.
    ‘‘There are so many ball players that don’t accept being a role model and we are role models,’’ Aaron said.
    Asked if as a child he ever thought he would someday be honored at the Alabama Capitol, Aaron said, ‘‘I never thought about it.’’
    ‘‘Regardless of what happened years ago, I’m here now,’’ he said.
    After the news conference, Aaron hung around for about 15 minutes — signing baseballs and bats and posing for pictures with Capitol workers and state officials.
    During his acceptance speech, Aaron told the audience that he and a fellow nominee, Goodrich, have something in common because a company that BE&K now owns built the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where Aaron hit his record 715th homer in 1974.
    ‘‘That’s the stadium that was known as ’the launching pad,’’’ Aaron said of the old stadium’s reputation for giving up the home run ball.
    Aaron later was asked which of his home runs he remembers the most. It wasn’t number 715.
    He said it was the one he hit off St. Louis’ Billy Muffett to clinch the 1957 pennant for the Milwaukee Braves, who went on to win the World Series that year.

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