ATLANTA -- The heat is squarely on Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Randy Tomlin.
With the pitching rotation disrupted by the hamstring injury to the main man, Doug Drabek, Tomlin must provide the Pirates with at least a decent outing today after the staff was shellacked in Game 3.
Tomlin, 25, has thrown only two innings against the Atlanta Braves this season, but said his approach will be to "keep the speedsters off base, so I can face their power hitters without anyone on. They are a very aggressive team."
dTC He said he is looking forward to pitching despite the Braves' crowd and said: "It will be fun watching them. I've pitched before rowdy and tough crowds before, and it doesn't really bother me. When I'm pitching, I don't hear the crowd."
Drabek's status is still iffy for Game 5 tomorrow. Manager Jim Leyland could come back with Bob Walk, who saved Game 1 for Drabek, or ex-Brave Zane Smith on three days' rest.
Smith was out-dueled by young Steve Avery in a classic, 1-0 Brave victory.
Salute to the fans
The only Atlanta starter with postseason experience, Charlie Leibrandt, is hoping for a little more offensive support than he received in 1985 when the Kansas City Royals gave him only six runs in four postseason starts.
"It's [being in the playoffs] probably more exciting now from the fans' standpoint," said Leibrandt, who turned 35 this month. "I've never seen fans like the ones in Atlanta this summer. They've really spurred us on."
Leibrandt has had a streaky season, but won 15 times to make the Braves the first National League team with three 15-game winning left-handers since the 1917 New York Giants. The others were Avery and Tom Glavine.
"It's hard for me to explain why my season was so streaky," he said. "I was on a pretty good roll until a couple of starts ago. My control hasn't been very good, but if I get it back I'll throw a pretty good game."
Leyland's wife, Katie, gave birth to a son, Patrick James, Friday in Pittsburgh. Their first child weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. . . . The crowd was the second largest in Atlanta's NLCS history, topped only by 52,173 for Game 3 against St. Louis in 1982. . . . The 5 home runs yesterday tied the record for an LCS game. It has happened 5 times in the NL, 3 times in the AL.
Murphy a Brave at heart
Long-time Braves' favorite Dale Murphy said, "I still feel a small part of" the team's resurgence. "I was here only last year and I feel close to the team."
Murphy prefers not to recall the last six years when the tea finished last five times, but dwells on seasons like 1982 when he led them to their previous division title.
"In the early 80s, we contended and we won," he said. "That' what I remember. I still have a lot of friends in this organization. I'm excited for them. They deserve this."