ATLANTA — John Smoltz got two standing ovations, a video tribute and a congratulatory text message from his friend Greg Maddux on the night he joined the 3,000 strikeout club.
About the only thing he didn’t get was a victory.
Smoltz became the 16th pitcher in major league history to reach the plateau, but was outpitched by John Lannan in the Washington Nationals’ 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
Smoltz fanned Felipe Lopez in the third inning, the veteran hurler’s fourth of the game, to reach the mark. He struck out 10 for the second straight start and for the 45th time in his 20-year career.
Lopez whiffed on a split-finger fastball, a pitch Smoltz first debuted in 1992 NLCS and one that the Atlanta ace still credits for helping win the ‘96 NL Cy Young Award.
"That guy is good," Lopez said. "He’s freaking nasty. He’s tough. He never follows a pattern. He changes it up."
Maddux, Smoltz’s longtime teammate with the Braves, offered his own words of praise.
"I already got a text (message) from Maddux," Smoltz said, "He said I’ve lost one hair for every strikeout I’ve made."
Smoltz’s two teenage daughters watched the game from the front row behind the Braves’ dugout. His parents were in Arizona but left a message on his cell phone.
Nationals team president Stan Kasten, who used to work in the same capacity for Atlanta, walked through the Braves’ clubhouse to shake the pitcher’s hand.
The crowd at Turner Field gave Smoltz two standing ovations, and huge Mitsubishi TV screen flashed many of his career highlights.
"Today, for one single moment," Smoltz said, "it was an incredible feeling."
Among the 15 pitchers ahead of him on the 3,000 strikeout list, Smoltz reached the mark faster than all but Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens.
Maddux is the only other active pitcher with more strikeouts (3,287).
Lannan, a rookie, allowed five hits in seven innings and the Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak. Washington had lost six of seven and is just 3-15 since winning its first three games of the season.
"A win like that, with John Smoltz chasing 3,000 strikeouts, is worth two or three losses," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "It was nice regardless of the score."
The Braves’ five-game winning streak ended.
Smoltz (3-1) allowed a run and five hits in seven innings, and didn’t walk a batter. Still, his ERA rose 22 points to 0.78. He got no run support from an offense that came into the game leading the NL with a .286 average.
Willie Harris’ RBI double in the second gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Washington added five runs in the ninth off reliever Jorge Campillo, who made a throwing error in the inning. Four of the runs were unearned.
Just two of Atlanta’s eight baserunners reached second, and none got as far as third.
Lannan gave up six runs and nine hits in his first appearance of the season against the Braves, in Washington on April 12. He was much better in his last start, Thursday at New York. In that one, Lannan struck out 11 without a walk in six innings and got a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to the Mets.
"I’ve been working on locating my fastball," Lannan said. "If it’s up, I get hurt. I left it out the first time (against Atlanta) and got hurt."
Ray King and Luis Ayala pitched the eighth for Washington. Jon Rauch pitched the ninth.
Smoltz was quick to acknowledge Lannan’s performance in the face of history.
"I’ve got to tip by hat to Lannan," Smoltz said. "He outpitched me."
Notes: Braves 3B Chipper Jones, the NL’s leading hitter with a .430 average, went 0-for-4. Jones had hit safely in 13 straight games and in 18 of 19 this year. ... Smoltz’s 270 career strikeouts against the Washington-Montreal franchise are his second-most against an opponent. He has 275 against the Mets. ... Nationals closer Chad Cordero will have his right shoulder examined on Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews. ... Braves LHP Mike Hampton (pectoral) will make a rehab start at Triple-A Richmond on Friday.