Braves walk all over Astros in 13-3 rout Atlanta uses 10 walks, two errors to take 2-0 lead in Division Series

October 02, 1997|By Jerry Schwartz | Jerry Schwartz,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA -- After playing a nearly flawless game and still losing to the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, the Houston Astros staggered through Game 2 yesterday and this time lost big, 13-3.

The Braves can advance to their sixth National League $l Championship Series in the 1990s when they send John Smoltz to the mound against Shane Reynolds tomorrow at the Astrodome.

Atlanta took advantage of 10 walks and two Houston errors that led to four unearned runs.

Both starters -- Atlanta's Tom Glavine and Houston's Mike Hampton -- struggled for control in high winds and dry air.

But while Glavine managed to escape in five of the six innings he pitched, Hampton yielded a three-run homer to Jeff Blauser in the third and the eventual winning run on four straight walks in the fifth inning.

By the time he left in the fifth, Hampton, with four walks in the fifth and eight overall, had set division series records for most consecutive walks, most walks in an inning and most walks in a game, and had tied a record for most walks in a division series.

"It's just one of those things where the elements are what they are, and you have to deal with it," Glavine said. "You can't give in to it, or make excuses. You just have to go out there and stay stubborn and continue to make pitches. I was fortunate that I made some decent pitches when I had to."

Glavine was helped by a spectacular catch against the wall in foul territory by right fielder Andruw Jones to end the sixth inning. The Braves pitcher also benefited from Greg Colbrunn's pinch-hit that drove in two runs with two out in the fifth. It was the Braves' first postseason pinch-hit since 1995.

But Glavine also helped himself by shutting down the top third of the Astros' order, as Greg Maddux had done a day earlier. Through the first two games of the series, only Craig Biggio's meaningless ninth-inning, infield single yesterday interrupted an 0-for-24 skid by Biggio, Derek Bell and Jeff Bagwell.

Bagwell, a candidate for the National League Most Valuable Player award, struck out three times swinging yesterday, and his lazy fly to center field ended the game.

Biggio said: "If we were swinging at bad pitches and swinging at balls over our heads, or balls in the dirt, having horrible at-bats, you could say, 'These guys are feeling the pressure a little bit.' But we've been having some good at-bats, quality at-bats, and really just haven't had any good fortune."

Houston manager Larry Dierker agreed that the top of his lineup would have to produce for Houston to have a chance to sweep the next three games in the best-of-five series.

"I don't know whether our first three hitters have been letting them get away with some mistakes or whether they haven't been making any," Dierker said of Maddux and Glavine. "The bottom line is the same: If we don't get some offense out of Bagwell, Bell and Biggio, we don't often win."

On Tuesday, the Astros squandered Darryl Kile's two-hit pitching effort through seven innings, losing to the Braves, 2-1. Dierker said he thought his team was loose and ready to play yesterday until Hampton began to struggle.

"I think they felt pretty good going into the game, but I think that as Hampton began to unravel, the fear of leaving here 0-2 set in, and then there were a few guys that may have gotten shook up and tried too hard," Dierker said.

Brad Ausmus, who had been 1-for-22 in career at-bats against Glavine, hit a two-out, two-run double in the top of the fourth. When Hampton followed by driving in Ausmus with a single, the Astros had tied the game, 3-3.

But the Braves pulled away in the fifth. Hampton retired Kenny Lofton and Blauser easily to start the inning before throwing 16 of the next 18 pitches out of the strike zone. He gave up consecutive walks to Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez and Andruw Jones, who forced home the go-ahead run.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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