BRAVES' LAST-DITCH DRAMA CULLED FROM HIGHER PLACE.
Byline: KAREN CROUSE
The talisman that had worked wonders for the Atlanta Braves The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From to the present, the Braves have played in Turner Field. before in must-win National League Championship Series games was on the mound. But on Monday you had to wonder if it wasn't the St. Christopher's medal tucked away in the pocket of manager Bobby Cox
The 7-6 victory the Braves pulled off in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series was a small miracle. Never mind what it says in the Atlanta media guide about Michael Tucker coming to the Braves two years ago from Kansas City Kansas City, two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). . On this night he looked like he was heaven-sent.
The Braves didn't appear to have a prayer after Ken Caminiti
Brown opened the eighth by walking Ryan Klesko Ryan Anthony Klesko (born June 12, 1971 in Westminster, California) is a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball. Previously, Klesko played with the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. He bats and throws left handed. . Javier Lopez then singled to right. After Andruw Jones Andruw Rudolf Jones (born April 23, 1977 in Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles) is a baseball player who will be a free agent after the World Series. From 1996 until 2007, Jones played for the Atlanta Braves, a Major League Baseball franchise. popped out, up to the plate stepped Tucker, an outfielder of no real renown.
Five outs. That's all the Padres needed to ice their first World Series appearance since 1984. Tucker certainly didn't seem like he'd be a major obstacle in their path; he had struck out twice and flied out against Brown in Brown's nine-inning masterpiece in Game 2.
That was then. This time Tucker took Brown to a full count, then lifted a fastball over the right-field fence to knock the wind out of the Padres and the 58,918 fans who had flocked to Qualcomm Stadium to see San Diego punch its ticket to the World Series.
It was the most dramatic swing seen around these parts since Kirk Gibson's shot against the Oakland A's at Dodger Stadium in Game One of the 1988 World Series. By the time the stunned Padres recovered their wits, the Braves had added two more runs.
Donne Wall replaced Brown and walked fellow reliever John Rocker. After Ozzie Guillen struck out, Tony Graffanino doubled in Rocker, advanced to third on the throw from the outfield and scored on shortstop Chris Gomez' wild throw.
Gomez' error would loom large when, in the bottom of the ninth, Padres pinch hitter Greg Myers aimed to thrill, hitting a two-run homer off Kerry Ligtenberg that brought the Padres to within 7-6 with no outs.
Power-hitter Greg Vaughn, who had sat out the previous three games with a strained left quadriceps muscle, was summoned to pinch hit and Greg Maddux sauntered in from the Braves' bullpen - yes, you read that right. Maddux, making his first career postseason appearance in a relief role, struck out Vaughn and got Quilvio Veras to ground out. After walking Steve Finley he handcuffed Tony Gwynn, who hit a weak dribbler to first baseman Andres Galarraga to assure Maddux his first career save.
So it was the Braves became the first team in major-league history to lose the first three games of a postseason series and force at least a sixth, to be played Wednesday in Atlanta.
The Braves are now 8-4 when facing elimination in the NLCS NLCS National League Championship Series (baseball)
NLCS North Lawrence Community Schools (various locations, USA)
NLCS National Landscape Conservation System and don't think it hasn't dawned on the Padres that Atlanta's rich legacy in the `90s includes rallying from 1-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals For the National Football League team that played in St. Louis from 1960 to 1987, see .
The St. Louis Cardinals (also referred to as "the Cards" or "the Redbirds") are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. two years ago.
That said, history remains firmly on the side of the Padres. Only two teams in all of professional sports have prevailed after falling behind 0-3: the Toronto Maple Leafs The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). against Detroit in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals and the New York Islanders The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, a hamlet located on Long Island in Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, United States. against Pittsburgh in the 1975 Stanley Cup quarterfinals.
The Padres still have two match points, so to speak. But you have to wonder if they'll be able to pick themselves up after failing to keep the Braves down. If Games 4 and 5 were a stern test of Atlanta's character, Game 6 will measure the Padres' fortitude.
``I think we showed a lot tonight after what happened,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said, straining to put the best light on a dark, dark night. ``We kind of let the game get out of hand once they took a one-run lead. But we battled back.''
From the outset the Braves thought they had a good chance in this one because sending Smoltz to the mound in a must-win game is like calling on John Elway to lead a last-minute touchdown drive or Michael Jordan to score a last-second basket.
He was 2-0 in NLCS elimination games, with an ERA of 0.82. Only the Padres seemed unimpressed. Caminiti struck in the first and Vander Wal in the sixth.
Smoltz allowed nine hits in 6-2/3 innings. If not for Tucker, that would have been all the opening the Padres needed to shut the door on the Braves. Instead, they're still alive in their drive to make those 106 regular-season wins mean something.
``So many of you have said we're one of the class organizations in baseball and we're proud of that,'' said Braves general manager John Schuerholz. ``We're proud of the fact we have put ourselves in that position now for eight years. (It's) remarkable when you think about this crazy economic situation in which we're forced to operate to be able to continually keep a winning team. But we also feel there is sort of the unfinished symphony. Unless we win the World's Championship, we're not satisfied.''
PHOTO From left, the Padres' Chris Gomez, manager Bruce Bochy and Carlos Hernandez are speechless after losing lead.
Eric Risberg/Associated Press