Smoltz shelled by Marlins in his return to rotation

Posted: April 06, 2005

John Smoltz's first start in nearly 4 years ranked with the worst of his career.

Juan Encarnacion hit a grand slam to cap a five-run first inning, Smoltz lasted only five outs and Carlos Delgado had four hits in his Florida debut to lead the Marlins over the visiting Atlanta Braves, 9-0, yesterday in their opener.

Smoltz, making the transition from All-Star closer back to the rotation, threw 65 pitches and gave up seven runs, six of them earned. A Marlins-record crowd of 57,405 taunted him with tomahawk chops as he left the game, his ERA 32.40.

"Obviously, I wouldn't have thought this was possible," he said. "It's numbing. You want a mulligan."

By pitching 1 2/3 innings, the former Cy Young Award winner matched his shortest outing as a starter. It happened three other times, most recently on May 3, 1994, also against Florida.

Josh Beckett earned the win for Florida. He allowed two hits in six innings.

In other games:

* At San Francisco, Jason Schmidt struck out nine in seven strong innings to lead the Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2. Giants slugger Barry Bonds, recovering from two operations on his right knee, received a standing ovation and declared, "I will be back!"

* At Houston, Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders homered to lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the Astros, 7-3.

* At Phoenix, Luis Gonzalez homered twice and drove in three runs to lead Arizona, 5-4, over the Cubs.

Noteworthy

* The Cardinals waived pitcher Rick Ankiel, but hope he will not be claimed, so that they can send him to the minors to learn to play outfield again.

* Cincinnati's Ryan Freel was charged with drunken driving after the Reds beat the New York Mets, 7-6, in their season opener Monday. *

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