Braves top Phils, keep lead at 1 1/2 Atlanta captures 100th win, 7-2

September 27, 1993|By Jon Marks | Jon Marks,Contributing Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves weekend series was billed as a National League playoff preview. And though the Braves won two of three, it's Atlanta that is more uncertain about a spot in the postseason.

"I'd hope 100 wins would darn near guarantee a pennant," said Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton, who helped his team to victory No. 100 yesterday, 7-2, with his legs rather than his bat. Pendleton had an RBI infield single and beat out a routine play at second while another run scored during a four-run seventh.

But after catching and then passing the San Francisco Giants, the Braves now hold a 1 1/2 -game lead in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos' 9-3 loss in New York yesterday dropped Philadelphia's magic number in the NL East to three.

"Montreal lost. That's a plus," Phillies catcher Darren Daulton said. "I don't care how we win this thing."

If the Braves win their thing, it will be because of a torrid run that coincided with the arrival of first baseman Fred McGriff in a trade with the San Diego Padres.

"The way the Giants jumped out to such an early lead, you knew we'd have to win a lot of games to catch them," Pendleton said.

The Braves are 47-15 (.758) since McGriff joined the team, including 29-6 on the road since July 23. Yet it hasn't assured them a thing. The Giants have shaken off an eight-game September losing streak to tighten things up.

"The big thing was everyone pronounced them dead, but no one here pronounced them dead," said Atlanta right-hander John Smoltz, who was rocked for 11 hits and five runs Saturday, before his teammates came on for a 9-7 victory. "We knew it was going to be a dogfight till the end."

So it didn't matter yesterday if the opponent was the Phillies or the New York Mets. The Braves simply couldn't afford to lose. Players on both sides said they didn't regard this series as any indicator of what might happen next week, should they meet again.

That might be a good thing for the Phillies, who committed seven errors in the series and allowed 21 walks.

"We played an ugly game today," Daulton said after ex-Oriole Curt Schilling was victimized by three errors and a wild pitch. "But it's almost like we picked up a game. . . . I'm looking forward to going to Pittsburgh and winning [tonight]."

Jeff Blauser's two-run single broke a 2-2, seventh-inning tie, making a winner out of left-hander Steve Avery (17-6) and handing Schilling (15-7) his first loss since July 11.

"Maybe it's good that we got it out of our system now, rather than in the playoffs," Phillies rookie shortstop Kevin Stocker said.

"They didn't gain any psychological edge by taking two out of three from us, because no one in our clubhouse knows what that means," reliever Mitch Williams said.

The Braves, meanwhile, will be off today, then are host to the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies for three apiece. They say a return trip to Veterans Stadium isn't on their minds, and even if they do return, what happened here this past weekend won't matter.

"Once the playoffs start, it's who plays the best," said outfielder David Justice, whose two-run homer yesterday pushed him ahead of teammate Ron Gant and the Giants' Barry Bonds in the National League RBI race, 115-114. "It's the luck factor. Whoever gets the breaks will probably win. We're very similar teams. They've got great offense. We've got great offense. It'll be a great series -- if we can hold on."

Shortstop Blauser said: "I think the only message to Philadelphia is that they have to clinch against somebody else."

"We're fighting for our lives," said McGriff. "I think we had a lot more pressure than those guys, so you can't really say it will carry over."

The Allentown Morning Call and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

WEST STRETCH

REMAINING GAMES

Date ... Atl. ... S.F.

9/27 ... Off .... S.D.

9/28 ... Hou. ... Colo.

9/29 ... Hou. ... Colo.

9/30 ... Hou. ... at L.A.

10/1 ... Colo. .. at L.A.

10/2 ... Colo. .. at L.A.

10/3 ... Colo. .. at L.A.

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