October 2, 1997 in Sports

For Atlanta, It Was Just A Walk In The Park

Associated Press
 

The Atlanta Braves and the N.L. championship series. They have become inexorably linked, much like bacon and eggs or Simon and Garfunkel.

The division series, supposed to provide another obstacle when it was instituted three years ago, has become little more than a nuisance for the Braves.

Atlanta routed the Houston Astros 13-3 Wednesday to move within a victory of its sixth straight league championship series. C’mon, did you really expect a change in this October ritual?

“We’re up 2-0 and we’ve got John Smoltz, a big-game pitcher, on the mound for Game 3,” third baseman Chipper Jones said. “I like our odds.”

The Braves keep saying the best-of-5 division playoffs are the scariest part of the postseason, but they’ve hardly played like it. Over the past three years, Atlanta is 8-1 in the short series.

The Astros are playing like a team that was satisfied just making it to the postseason for the first time since 1986. Mike Hampton had eight walks Wednesday and “The Killer Bs” have become “The Killer Zs,” snoozing through the series with just one hit.

Not even manager Larry Dierker sounds optimistic about his team’s chances heading back to the Astrodome to finish the series. Heck, the Braves had a better record on the road (51-30) than they did at home (50-31).

“It’s going to be hard to sweep the Braves,” Dierker said. “It looked like we were jittery, pressing, trying too hard, because everyone knew we needed to get one win here.”

In 11 regular-season games between the Braves and Astros, the margin of victory was never more than two runs - a trend that continued in Game 1 of the division series when Atlanta won 2-1 behind Greg Maddux.

There wasn’t any drama in Game 2.

Hampton, who had only two walks in 17 innings during his final two starts of the regular season, walked four in the first four innings and got worse after getting two outs in the fifth.

With the score 3-all, he threw 16 balls in an 18-pitch span, resulting in consecutive walks to Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez and Andruw Jones, forcing home the go-ahead run. Hampton, who threw only 38 strikes in 87 pitches, was replaced by Mike Magnante, who gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Greg Colbrunn that made it 6-3.

“I was just trying to be a little too perfect and it wound up costing me,” Hampton said.

xxxx

Braves 13, Astros 3

Houston Atlanta

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Biggio 2b 4 0 1 0 Lofton cf 4 1 0 0

DeBell rf 5 0 0 0 Blauser ss 5 2 2 3

Bgwell 1b 4 0 0 0 ChJnes 3b 2 2 1 0

LGnzlz lf 4 0 1 0 McGrff 1b 4 3 2 1

Hidalgo cf 2 1 0 0 JLopez c 3 2 1 1

Mgnnte p 0 0 0 0 AJones rf 4 1 0 1

RGrcia p 0 0 0 0 Klesko lf 2 0 0 0

Lima p 0 0 0 0 Clbrnn ph 1 0 1 2

THwrd ph 0 0 0 0 Butista lf 2 0 1 2

Pena c 0 0 0 0 Grffnno 2b 2 0 0 0

Spiers 3b 3 1 0 0 Glavine p 3 2 2 0

Gterrez ss 4 0 1 0 Cather p 1 0 0 0

Asmus c 3 1 2 2 Whlers p 0 0 0 0

Abreu ph 1 0 0 0

BWgnr p 0 0 0 0

Hmptn p 2 0 1 1

Carr cf 1 0 0 0

Totals 33 3 6 3 Totals 33 13 10 10

Houston 000 300 000 3

Atlanta 003 035 02x 13

EBagwell (1), LGonzalez (1), Klesko (1). DPHouston 1. LOBHouston 9, Atlanta 6. 2BAusmus (1), JLopez (1). HRBlauser (1). SBChJones (1).

Houston IP H R ER BB SO

Hampton L,0-1 4-2/3 2 6 6 8 2

Magnante 1 4 3 1 0 2

RGarcia 1/3 1 2 0 1 0

Lima 1 0 0 0 1 1

BWagner 1 3 2 2 0 2

Atlanta

IP H R ER BB SO

Glavine W,1-0 6 5 3 3 5 4

Cather 2 0 0 0 1 2

Wohlers 1 1 0 0 0 1

T-3:06. A-49,200 (50,528).

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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