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Braves blow out fish

    ATLANTA — Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer, Jeff Francoeur reached 100 RBIs for the second year in a row and John Smoltz pitched six strong innings to lead the Atlanta Braves past the mistake-prone Florida Marlins 11-6 on Monday night.
    Jones connected in the fifth for his 25th homer, a towering drive that capped a five-run inning and gave the Braves a 10-1 cushion.
    Francoeur had a run-scoring single in the third and a two-run double in the fifth — just before Jones’ homer — that gave the 23-year-old outfielder an even 100 RBIs. He drove in 103 last year, his first full season in the big leagues.
    All that offensive support made things easy for Smoltz (14-7), who was lifted after the sixth with the Braves comfortably ahead. He gave up four hits and his only run on Cody Ross’ homer in the second, which briefly tied it at 1.
    The Braves, still clinging to the faint hope of making the playoffs, came into the night 51⁄2 games behind San Diego for the wild card and 71⁄2 behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East.
    Florida turned in a performance befitting a last-place team. Alfredo Amezaga misplayed two fly balls in center field, letting one bounce off his glove for a two-base error and totally losing another against the dark sky, giving Kelly Johnson a gift double.
    Byung-Hyun Kim (9-7) gave up a career-worst nine runs, allowing nine hits and hitting three batters in four-plus innings.
    For good measure, the Marlins ran themselves out of another inning when Hanley Ramirez was struck in the leg by Jeremy Hermida’s sharply hit grounder while on the basepaths, ending the third.
    The Braves also had a couple of runners get tagged out. Andruw Jones got caught between third and home on a failed suicide squeeze, and Francoeur was thrown out at third trying to move up on Brandon Jones’ sacrifice fly.
    Jones, who was called up Sunday, still picked up his first career RBI.
    In keeping with the Jones theme, the third of Atlanta’s starters with that name, Chipper Jones, had three hits and a pair of RBIs before he left the game.
    Florida scored five runs off the Braves’ bullpen. Jose Ascanio gave up three runs in the seventh, including a leadoff homer to Mike Jacobs. Manny Acosta was touched for two more in the eighth.

Andruw Jones still hoping to stay in Atlanta
    Despite a disappointing season and impending free agency, Andruw Jones still hopes to be playing for the Braves in 2008.
    There have been no contract negotiations between the team and agent Scott Boras, though Jones is likely to be more affordable than he was at the start of the season. He went into Monday’s game against the Florida Marlins hitting just .220 with 24 homers and 88 RBIs.
    ‘‘If they want me here, I’ll be here,’’ Jones said. ‘‘It just depends on what the Braves want to do.’’
    The Braves have shown no inclination to discuss a new contact with Jones, probably figuring he would be too expensive to fit within their budget. The likelihood of him returning to the only team he’s ever played for became even more remote when Atlanta acquired Mark Teixeira at the trade deadline.
    Teixeira is under contact at least through next season and eligible for arbitration, which will surely increase his salary from the $9 million he’s making this year.
    But Jones isn’t giving up.
    ‘‘That’s the way the Braves always deal with free agency,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, they’ll come up with something. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t.’’

Championship game

    The Braves aren’t likely to be make the playoffs, but they have at least one player in the running for a championship.
    Outfielder Brandon Jones, who was called up from Richmond over the weekend, will return to Triple-A for one night only — Tuesday’s Bricktown Showdown between the champions of the International and Pacific Coast leagues.
    Richmond, which won the IL, will meet Pacific Coast champion Sacramento in a one-game playoff at Oklahoma City.
    ‘‘It’s the last game of the year,’’ Jones said. ‘‘I thought it would be a lot of fun, so I decided to go.’’
    Jones started the season at Double-A Mississippi and played 44 games for Richmond, combining to hit .295 with 19 homers and 100 RBIs in the minors.
    The R-Braves won the International League for the first time since 1994 by sweeping a doubleheader from Durham on Saturday, taking the best-of-five series 3-2. After playing all 18 innings, Jones traveled to Washington to make his major league debut on Sunday.
    ‘‘It was my first league championship since I’ve been in the minor leagues,’’ Jones said. ‘‘It was real exciting.’’
    So exciting that he wanted to play for the Triple-A championship, even though he’ll be spending a lot of time on airplanes. He flew to Atlanta to start against the Marlins, and he plans to be back with the big league club on Wednesday for the series finale against Florida.
    Asked if he was tired, Jones smiled and said, ‘‘Yes, I am.’’

Pitching plans
    Jo-Jo Reyes will get another shot at his first major league win on Tuesday.
    The Braves plan to start the rookie left-hander against the Marlins instead of Buddy Carlyle (8-6), who is bothered by a hyperextended right elbow.
    Reyes (0-2) has pitched in eight games for the Braves, including seven starts, without picking up a win. He has an ERA of 7.75 and has given up 41 hits and 23 walks in 33 2-3 innings.

Smoltz's rest
    John Smoltz would like to return to the good ol’ days, when it was common for a pitcher to start every fourth day.
    Manager Bobby Cox scoffed at the idea.
    ‘‘Of course I’m not going to let him do it, but that’s what he wants to do,’’ Cox said. ‘‘He’s in great shape.’’
    At age 40, Smoltz has put up another strong season. He went into Monday’s start at 13-7 with a 3.02 ERA, and his record would have been much better if the offense had given him more support.
    ‘‘He’s had a marvelous year,’’ Cox said. ‘‘We look for forward to John next year winning his 20.’’

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