Rocker's return is miserable for Mets

The Atlanta Braves took their seventh consecutive National League Eastern Division crown on Tuesday night, beating the New York Mets 7-1 in front of nearly 50,000 disgruntled fans at Shea Stadium.

The Atlanta Braves took their seventh consecutive National League Eastern Division crown on Tuesday night, beating the New York Mets 7-1 in front of nearly 50,000 disgruntled fans at Shea Stadium.

Adding insult to injury for Mets fans, the Atlanta manager, Bobby Cox, let the controversial closing pitcher John Rocker throw the final one-and-a-third innings. In his second appearance in New York since his infamous comments about minorities in New York, Rocker was greeted with boos, jeers and a bottle thrown from the crowd.

But Rocker was on the mound when Todd Pratt hit a ground ball to third base and Chipper Jones tagged Bubba Trammell for the final out. The Braves calmly celebrated as the Mets walked off the field, knowing they would finish second to Atlanta in the East for the third straight season.

The veteran right-hander John Burkett allowed just a solo homer to Edgardo Alfonzo and two singles in six innings.

The Braves entered the game apparently needing three more wins to secure the title. But Tuesday's win gave them a 7-4 lead in the season series against the Mets and, if the teams were to tie for the division lead, New York would lose the tie-breaker and enter the post-season as the wild card.

Any prospects of post-season play for the Arizona Diamondbacks disappeared when they lost 7-6 at Colorado Rockies.

In the American League, Tim Hudson put in a fine pitching display, while Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi hit home runs as the Oakland Athletics coasted to a 10-3 victory over the Anaheim Angels. Oakland have now won 18 of their last 23 games and lead Cleveland by one-and-a-half games for the American League wild card. Anaheim trail Seattle by half a game for the AL West title.

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