WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | Sports

Brewers Blasted By Bennett

Jeff Bennett dealt a blow to his former team's playoff chances.

Making his first major league start, Bennett allowed only one run in 5 2-3 innings to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night, keeping the Brewers from moving closer to first in the NL Central.

Milwaukee, trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 1982, slipped to 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs, who were idle. The Brewers have nine games left, one fewer than Chicago.

Chipper Jones was 3-of-4 for the Braves, raising his average to .342 and passing Colorado's Matt Holliday for the NL lead. Holliday went 1-for-4 against Los Angeles, his average slipping to .339.

Atlanta's Edgar Renteria, third in the batting race, was hitless in three at-bats and dropped to .336.

Rickie Weeks homered for Milwaukee, which has gone deep 216 times this season. That ties the franchise record set by the 1982 team known as "Harvey's Wallbangers," which lost to St. Louis in the World Series.

But that was the only run off Bennett, who was called up from Triple-A Richmond to make a start in Atlanta's thin rotation.

The 27-year-old right-hander had not pitched in the majors since 2004, when he went 1-5 with a 4.79 ERA for the Brewers. He had been in the minors ever since, spending part of the time recovering from major elbow surgery.

Bennett got into trouble right away, giving up one-out singles to Joe Dillon and Ryan Braun in the first. But he escaped the jam by striking out the side, fanning Prince Fielder and Corey Hart. He finished the night with eight strikeouts.

The Braves went to their bullpen after Bennett gave up a walk and single in the sixth. He walked off the mound to a standing ovation and was mobbed by his new teammates when he got to the dugout.

Manny Acosta struck out Geoff Jenkins for the third out. Rafael Soriano, who was handed a four-game suspension earlier in the day for plunking Florida's Dan Uggla this week, pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

Soriano appealed the suspension and will be allowed to pitch until Major League Baseball holds a hearing.

Atlanta matched a season-high winning streak with its fifth in a row, but it may be too late to get the Braves back to the playoffs. They came into the night trailing the NL East-leading New York Mets by 5 1/2 games, and have just nine games remaining.

Brian McCann put Atlanta ahead with an RBI single in the first, the Braves catching a break when right fielder Dillon stumbled and fell going after a routine fly. Atlanta extended its lead on Jones' two-run single in the second.

Both hits came with two outs off Jeff Suppan (10-12), who lasted six innings. He gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out six while losing for the first time since Aug. 22. He had gone 2-0 with a pair of no-decisions in his previous four starts.

Jones also had singles in the first and fifth before grounding out sharply to the pitcher in the eighth. The fifth-inning single was questionable, a grounder bobbled by the second baseman but ruled a hit by the official scorer.


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