Brown again puts Braves in NLCS hole Padres pitcher allows three hits, strikes out 11 in 3-0 victory

San Diego ahead 2-0

Out-dueled Glavine leaves after 6th inning

October 09, 1998|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

ATLANTA -- After years of grinding up opponents in the gears of their awesome starting pitching rotation, the Atlanta Braves are having the process reversed on them in the 1998 National League Championship Series.

And it hurts.

The Braves fell down by two games to none in the NLCS as Kevin Brown pitched and hit the San Diego Padres to a 3-0 victory in Game 2 last night at Turner Field.

Brown, the stone-faced right-hander with the nastiest moving fastball in baseball, stopped the Braves, holding them to three singles while striking out 11 and ringing up the complete-game win.

"What more could you ask for than this?" Brown said. "This was huge. It's a real moral victory to come in here and play this well against a team the caliber of the Braves and the type of pitching they have. It speaks to the heart and character of this team to come in here and not be intimidated."

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said: "We were trying like crazy to win the game. We just couldn't hit him. I don't know that any team could hit him tonight.

"That's the best I've seen him pitch against our ball club. I saw his no-hitter [against San Francisco] on TV last year, and he had the same type of stuff tonight."

The series moves cross country to San Diego for Game 3 tomorrow. The Padres, just two victories away from their second World Series, were 54-27 at home this season.

"You can't feel great about being down 0-2," Cox said, "but we have the type of club and the type of pitching that can easily reel off four in a row."

Crowds of more than 60,000 are expected to fill Qualcomm Stadium. Playoff fever is raging in San Diego. In Atlanta, it has been a different story. Only 43,083 turned out last night. That's 7,500 under capacity.

If the Braves will have one thing going in their favor tomorrow, it's that Greg Maddux, an 18-game winner and the National League ERA champ, is scheduled to pitch for them.

Last night, however, belonged to Brown.

"I was just trying to make adjustments and go with what was working for me at the time," Brown said. "Facing a team like the Braves, with the type of club they have, I was trying a variety of things, throwing everything up there but the kitchen sink. I was making stuff up as I went along."

A native Georgian who played college ball down the road at Georgia Tech, Brown has now beaten the Braves six straight times, including twice in last season's NLCS as a Florida Marlin.

Brown will be a free agent at the end of this season, and the Braves might want to consider signing him. How else are they going to get out of his path?

In the two games in this series, the Padres' starting pitchers have allowed just one run in 16 innings. Brown, who walked three, has pitched three times in this postseason and allowed just one run in 23 2/3 innings.

Atlanta starter Tom Glavine only gave up one run in six innings last night, but he was often in trouble. The run came on three straight two-out singles in the sixth by Chris Gomez, Brown and Quilvio Veras.

Glavine's command was off, and he seemed to have a tough time meshing with umpire Larry Poncino's strike zone. His pitch count swelled over 100 in the fifth inning, and he tired early -- a factor that contributed to his sixth-inning meltdown against the bottom of the Padres' order.

Glavine, a 20-game winner this season, is only 10-10 in the postseason for his career.

The Padres padded their lead with two runs in the ninth. Steve Finley and Wally Joyner drove them in with singles. Brown scored one of them after picking up his second hit of the game.

When the game ended, Brown was mobbed by his teammates. The stadium was so quiet, you could almost hear the other Padres congratulating him.

The Padres were without the services of their top run-producer, 50-homer man Greg Vaughn, who sat out with a strained left quadriceps suffered in the fourth inning of Wednesday night's 3-2 San Diego victory in Game 1.

Vaughn had stayed up until 5 a.m., receiving treatment. He was hoping to play over the weekend in San Diego, but manager Bruce Bochy sounded cautious.

"It's hard to say how long he'll be out," Bochy said. "It could be three or four days. It could be 10."

Vaughn hurt himself while contorting his body to catch a line drive to left field by Chipper Jones.

"At first, I thought I blew out my knee," he said.

Vaughn said he would do everything in his power to get back as soon as possible.

"I have all winter to rest," he said. "I'm a quick healer, and I can play through pain."

Losing Vaughn's bat changed the look of the Padres' lineup. Ruben Rivera, who made two great base-running plays to help the team to its Game 1 win, started in Vaughn's place. He doesn't have Vaughn's power, but he does bring speed to the lineup.

"You take a Greg Vaughn out of your lineup and it sure makes a difference," Bochy said. "Look at what he did for us this year. I'd hate to think about where we'd be without him. But one of the things we did well this year was overcome injuries."

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