Francoeur explodes after game off
Parkview grad homers, triples to drive in four runs in rout

ATLANTA - Getting a very rare game off sure worked for Jeff Francouer.

"I needed it mentally, more than anything," the Atlanta Braves right fielder from Lilburn said.

"I had to get my head back right."

Mission accomplished.

"I had fun for the first time in a long time," Francoeur said.

His 370-games played streak broken, a refreshed and refocused Francoeur was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs as the Braves ripped the New York Mets 11-4 Wednesday night at Turner Field.

"Frenchy got back the groove with a huge night," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. The homer in the sixth inning was Francoeur's first since April 12 and just his fourth of the season.

The Parkview graduate drove in runs with a triple in the third inning and a single in the fifth before his two-run homer. He was hit by a pitch for the fourth time this season in his first time up.

The Braves go for a sweep of the four-game series tonight. They are 5-0 against the Mets at home this year and lead the National League with a 19-5 home record.

Chipper Jones smashed his 12th home run of the season and 398th of his career, tying Dale Murphy for 45th on the all-time list, while Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann joined Francoeur with three hits.

The only lowlight for the Braves was another injury.

Jones, hitting .410, was hit below the right knee by a Scott Schoeneweis pitch in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. Shortstop Yunel Escobar injured a knee on the final play Tuesday night. Both are listed as day to day.

"Chipper has a huge lump," Cox said.

Other than watching Jones get plunked, it was a nice 67th birthday for Cox. It was an even a better day for Francoeur, though.

The manager gave Francoeur time off after he ran his hitless streak to 11 at-bats in the first game of Tuesday's day-night doubleheader, dropping his average to .258.

A little rest and a breakout game later, Francoeur is hitting .269.

"Bobby knew what he was doing," Francoeur said.

The former Clemson football signee spent plenty of time in the indoor batting cage between games Tuesday, getting a chance to retool his stroke in addition to regrouping mentally.

Just because he didn't play didn't mean Francoeur wasn't active during the second game. He paced the dugout spitting sunflower seeds and chattering away.

"He's the most annoying bench player in the world," said Duluth's McCann, who caught just the first game of the Tuesday doubleheader. "I don't want to ever have him on the bench again."

Francoeur doesn't plan to make taking games off a habit, even if it was beneficial this time.

Francoeur started every game during the past two seasons and the first 44 this year. His streak had been the longest active one in the majors and it was the second-longest ever by an Atlanta player. Murphy played in 740 consecutive games.

"He needed a mental day off," said McCann, Francoeur's long-time friend.

"Last week, I definitely didn't have any fun," said Francoeur, who was 1-for-14 and hadn't driven the ball with any authority at all.

That's all in the past now, he hopes.

"I knew I was on from the first pitch," Francoeur said.

Jair Jurrjens pitched seven strong innings for the Braves to improve to 5-3. The rookie right-hander allowed just one earned run, lowering his ERA to 2.64.

Mets starter Mike Pelfrey (2-5) couldn't get out of the fifth inning, departing after Francoeur's triple made it 6-1.

Things were only going to get worse for the Mets, who fell to 22-22 and trail first-place Florida by 31â "2 games in the NL East.

With a 5-1 start to their longest homestand of the season, the second-place Braves are 25-21 and trail the Marlins by 11â "2 games.