Braves batter Pirates into bind 13-5 rout sends them home 0-2 to face Glavine

October 08, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- During today's optional workout at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely tell themselves there is still a chance they can win the National League Championship Series.

And, technically, they'll be correct, since the Atlanta Braves still need two more wins after dismantling the Pirates, 13-5, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium yesterday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The problem with the Pirates' wishful thinking is that it assumes that somehow they will have some success cracking the Braves' seemingly unassailable pitching and their potent batting attack.

That's an awfully big assumption, given the nature of the first two games, where the Braves' second and third starters, John Smoltz and Steve Avery, shut down the Pirates for most of the game, then gave up inconsequential runs and dared Pittsburgh to play catch-up.

"Obviously, we've got to score some runs and we've got to win a ballgame," said manager Jim Leyland, whose Pirates will face Atlanta ace Tom Glavine tomorrow night. "It's that simple, there's no secret to that. That pretty much sums it up."

That does sum up the Pirates' inability to sustain anything that remotely resembles either a capable offense or a pitching staff that can stop the Braves, who, all of a sudden, are looking like the 1927 Yankees, with great pitching, outstanding defense and a ton of hitting.

"I didn't expect all those runs," said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. "We hit some heavy artillery [yesterday]. It was a hitter's day with sort of a bad background. It can be tough here between 3 and 6 p.m."

That was the game time forced on the teams by CBS, but the Braves, who tied a playoff record with their 13-run barrage and forced Pittsburgh to use a nine-inning playoff game record seven pitchers, hit as though they were swinging at grapefruit in broad daylight.

"Last year was surely a different experience for us. This year, there's more of a responsibility," said first baseman Sid Bream, the hitting star of Game 1. "We know what we have to do and trying to do it."

For the second straight day, Pittsburgh looked like the 1991 Orioles, falling way behind before the stadium seats had even warmed up.

"It obviously limits anybody," Leyland said. "It's tough to be fighting uphill all the time. That's what we've been doing."

Starter Danny Jackson was hit hard in the second inning, giving up four runs and four hits, including a run-scoring triple to shortstop Jeff Blauser. He also gave up a long sacrifice fly to pitcher Steve Avery.

Jackson got the hook, and reliever Bob Walk, the Pirates' most versatile pitcher, came in and kept Atlanta at bay until giving up Ron Gant's first career grand slam in the fifth.

And when the Pirates finally got to Avery with four runs in the seventh to threaten to make the game interesting, the Braves countered with five more runs.

Avery, who saw his playoff-record 22 1/3 consecutive scoreless inning streak end, was philosophical.

"It was fun while it lasted. That might have been a case of being too fired up and losing a little bit with a big lead," he said. "It's something I have to work on."

What Avery, 22, has is plenty of time to work on a killer edge. The Pirates don't have that luxury.

They are the 11th team in NL playoff history to lose the first two games of the series, and although the last two (St. Louis in 1985 and San Diego in 1984) came back to win, Pittsburgh will be facing Glavine, a 20-game winner, in Game 3.

If that weren't enough, the Pirates will send rookie knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the mound.

The Braves know where the Pirates are. They trailed Minnesot 2-0 in last year's World Series and came home to win three straight, eventually losing Games 6 and 7.

"I wouldn't say down is the word," the Braves' Blauser said. "Your backs are against a wall, and we had to take it to a higher level to win three games straight. To say that they're going to give up or feel like they're out of this thing would be naive."

But with the way the Pirates are looking right now, to thinotherwise might be equally naive.

NL playoffs

& Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves (Braves lead, 2-0) TV: Channels 11, 9

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

Game 1: Braves 5, Pirates 1

Game 2: Braves 13, Pirates 5

rTC Tomorrow: at Pittsburgh, 8:37

Saturday: at Pittsburgh, 8:37

Sunday: at Pittsburgh, 8:37*

Tuesday: at Atlanta, 8:37*

Wednesday: at Atlanta, 8:26*

(*-if necessary)

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