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WALK PLEASE: Newspapers after Braves Game I
« Reply #1: July 27, 2005, 02:52:29 AM »
Walk-in run puts Braves in first place

> By GUY CURTRIGHT
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 07/26/05
It wasn't as dramatic as that other bases-loaded walk in extra innings, but it may prove significant as well.

In 1999, Andruw Jones' walked in the 11th innng on a 3-and-2 pitch from Kenny Rogers of the New York Mets to put the Braves in the World Series.

Tuesday night, the power-hitting center fielder drew a four-pitch walk from Washington reliever Luis Ayala in the 10th inning to give the Braves sole possession of first place in the National League East.

It is only July, but the psyched-up crowd of 43,308 at a sweltering Turner Field won't soon forget this game either.

Jones doubled and scored the tying run in the ninth as the Braves rallied against Chad Cordero, who leads the majors with 34 saves. Then Atlanta won it 3-2 in the 10th without its cleanup hitter swinging the bat.

"We'll take any win we can get," said Jones, who is tied for the major league lead with 32 homers. "After [Ayala] threw that sinker in the dirt, there was no way I was going to swing."

The next pitch just missed outside. At least in the opinion of home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, who had previously called an ample strike zone.

Catcher Brian Schneider was upset, as was Ayala and most of the Nationals. But the Braves had the unlikely victory and slumping Washington was out of first place for the first time since June 5.

"It was a little away, I think," Jones said. "The catcher tried to frame it and I think the umpire might have had a bad angle."

In the past, Jones was rarely known for his plate discipline. But he has walked 42 times this season, the most on the Braves.

"You have to be patient in these situations and I was," Jones said. "Ayala is a good pitcher, but he didn't have his control."

That was obvious. Replacing left-hander Mike Stanton, Ayala hit Marcus Giles to load the bases with two outs prior to missing with four straight to Jones.

It was the 14th loss in 19 games for the skidding Nationals and it may be hard to recover from this one.

It looked like Livan Hernandez had snapped his 10-game losing streak to the Braves, but Cordero couldn't protect the lead. Then the Nationals' bullpen imploded in the 10th.

"Livan gave us a tremendous eight innings, but we couldn't close the door," said Washington manager Frank Robinson, who was upset with Ayala. "When it's 3-and-0, you throw the ball down the middle of the plate. You think he's going to swing?"

Hernandez and John Smoltz ? both All-Star Game selections ? battled through the heat, with the temperature 93 degrees at game time.

"I've pitched in a lot of hot games in Atlanta, but that's as hot as I've ever been," said Smoltz, who escaped his first loss since early June when the Braves rallied against Cordero in the ninth. He has won seven consecutive decisions.

"It was as good a matchup as you'll see," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the duel between Smoltz and Hernandez. "With the humidity and heat, it wasn't easy."

On the next pitch after Chipper Jones had nearly homered in the seventh, Adam LaRoche belted his 14th to get the Braves within a run. "To be honest, I was looking for something to crush," LaRoche said. "I was looking for something inside."

LaRoche got it, but the Nationals still looked to be in control with Cordero entering for the ninth. Instead, Andruw Jones hit Cordero's first pitch for a double and Chipper Jones sent him to third with a single. LaRoche tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

Chris Reitsma retired Washington in order in the 10th and then the Braves won it. Brian McCann led off with a single against lefty Mike Stanton and pinch-hitter Julio Franco laid down a sacrifice bunt. Rafael Furcal was walked intentionally before Stanton got Kelly Johnson to pop out.

With the right-handed hitting Giles coming up, Robinson played the percentages and brought in Ayala, who has a 2.95 ERA. A hit batter and walk later, it was over.

"If you can't get pumped up to play in a game like that, you don't have a pulse," Chipper Jones said. "I give credit to the crowd. They were loud, up out of their seats, chanting, chopping, doing the things that usually happen in a playoff atmosphere.

"These games are fun to play in, even if it's 180 degrees."

Diehard_Nationals_Fan

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WALK PLEASE: Newspapers after Braves Game I
« Reply #2: July 27, 2005, 10:24:50 AM »
From the Atlantanation:

http://www.atlantanation.com/braves.html



Jul 26, 11:31 PM (ET)

By CHARLES ODUM
 
 
ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox is known for giving his players the freedom to swing on 3-0 counts.

Not Tuesday night. Not in the playoff atmosphere of an extra-inning game between the teams tied for first place in the NL East. Not with a sellout crowd of 43,308 on its feet, adding more pressure to the situation.

Not even with Andruw Jones at the plate and the bases loaded.

Jones took a close pitch from Luis Ayala for ball four in the 10th inning, capping a comeback that gave Atlanta a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals and sole possession of first place in the division.

Jones, who shares the major league home run lead with Chicago's Derrek Lee at 32, had a triple and a double in the game. But Jones also leads the Braves with 42 walks, and he patiently waited while Ayala tried to make him chase a nasty sinker for ball three.

 
"In that situation you've got to be smart enough, after a guy throws you a 2-0 tough sinker, you have to go out there and be really patient and let him at least throw you one over the plate, and he didn't," Jones said.

The Nationals, who led the NL East by 5? games on July 2, fell out of first place for the first time since June 4 - the last date the Braves were in first alone. The teams had shared first place for five days.

Washington closer Chad Cordero blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth, spoiling a strong start by Livan Hernandez against Atlanta's John Smoltz in a matchup of All-Star pitchers. The Braves tied it when Jones doubled and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam LaRoche, who homered earlier.

Rookie catcher Brian McCann led off the 10th with a single against Mike Stanton (0-1), and pinch-runner Jeff Francoeur advanced to second on pinch-hitter Julio Franco's sacrifice. Nationals manager Frank Robinson ordered an intentional walk to Rafael Furcal.

After Kelly Johnson popped out for the second out, Robinson brought in Ayala, who hit Marcus Giles with a pitch, loading the bases for Jones.

 
Ayala threw three balls well out of the strike zone. His fourth pitch was close enough that Jones paused before beginning his walk to first base. Ayala and catcher Brian Schneider argued the call by plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.

"When it's 3-0, you throw the ball down the middle of the plate," Robinson said. "You think he's going to swing at a 3-0? Where are you going when it's 3-0?"

Cox said he thought ball four "was off the plate quite a bit."

But the view from the Nationals' bench was different.

"I thought it was perfect," Hernandez said.

 
Chris Reitsma (3-2) worked a perfect 10th for the win.

The teams began the three-game series tied for first place, and the Braves tied the game at 2 in the ninth against Cordero - handing him his fourth blown save in 38 chances.

Jones led off the ninth with a double to left-center and moved to third on a single by Chipper Jones.

"He threw two pitches and had guys on first and third right away," Chipper Jones said. "That's the kind of pressure you want to put on them."

LaRoche, who gave the Braves their first run with a homer in the seventh, followed with a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Andruw Jones to score the tying run.

 
The rally denied Hernandez his first win over the Braves in five years.

His last win against Atlanta came on Aug. 18, 2000, with the Giants. In 12 regular-season starts against the Braves since, he was 0-10 with a 6.91 ERA.

"I pitched well today," Hernandez said. "I don't know what happens (against the Braves)."

Hernandez gave up five hits in eight innings. Smoltz allowed eight hits and two runs in eight innings. He walked two and had four strikeouts.

Brad Wilkerson had three hits with an RBI and robbed Chipper Jones of a home run in the seventh by reaching over the left-field wall to make a catch.

 
LaRoche ended the shutout bid by hitting Hernandez's next pitch into the right-field seats for his 14th homer.

Robinson started his full opening-day infield - Nick Johnson, Jose Vidro, Cristian Guzman and Vinny Castilla - for the first time since May 4. Johnson, returning from a bruised heel, was activated from the disabled list before the game and went 0-for-4.

Wilkerson's two-out bloop single to right drove in Schneider to give Washington a 1-0 lead in the third. Schneider led off the inning with a single.

Another two-out single pushed the Nationals' lead to 2-0 in the fifth. Hernandez led off the inning with a single and moved to second on Wilkerson's third hit. After advancing to third on a double-play grounder by Vidro, Hernandez scored when Jose Guillen reached down to line a low pitch into center field. ^

Notes:

 

The Braves' only two hits through six innings were extra-base hits - a second-inning bloop double by Chipper Jones and a fourth-inning triple by Andruw Jones. ... The Braves improved to 2-40 when trailing after eight innings.