I’ve been handed a rewrite. Sunday is no longer the day when the Braves lie down offensively. It’s now the day when the Braves fall behind but rally back with a huge inning. Last week they were down 7-1 entering the eighth, and won 8-7. This time, it was 4-1 in the fifth. By the end of the inning, it was 10-4.
Hampton got knocked around in the third. Already trailing 1-0, Bobby bizarrely had Garciaparra walked to face Manny Ramirez, who doubled in a run. Nomar scored on a groundout to make it 4-0. The Braves rallied to get a run on an infield single by Furcal in the bottom of the inning, but Lowe was cruising.
Then came the fifth. The Braves nickel-and-dimed it to tie the game: Andruw walked, Thomas had an infield single, Eddie Perez walked, Hampton got Andruw home with a chopper (force at second), then squirters through the infield by Furcal and Green. And Lowe — who was really just unlucky to that point — got the infamous Derek Lowe Face, and the Braves took over.
Drew doubled home Furcal and Green to take the lead. Chipper hit a two-run blast. (Contrary to what Pete and Don indicated, Chipper’s actually been hitting for fair power since his return. He just hasn’t had many singles.) LaRoche walked, Andruw doubled, and Thomas tripled them home to reach the final score. What annoyed me was that Eddie couldn’t get Thomas home from third with one out. I mean, yeah, 10-4, but you still have to execute.
Hampton pitched pretty well after the third, allowing only one hit and one walk before giving way to Alfonseca with one out in the seventh. Reitsma and Smoltz finished the game. It sure is great that Bobby saved his bullpen last night, huh?
In the division, the Philles and Mets won and the Marlins haven’t played yet. The Mets are (at least temporarily) in sole possession of second, two games out, the Marlins 2 1/2, and the Braves stay 3 1/2. The entire National League is tight. The Braves have the 12th-best record in the league but are only one game below .500, and only 5 1/2 behind the Cubs, who have the second-best record in the league. (The Cards are 3 up on Chicago and have put a little distance on everyone else, but one bad series could change that.) All 12 teams are within 3 1/2 games of a playoff spot.
The Braves will try — again — to get to .500 with a three-game set against the Expos in beautiful San Juan. The Mets and Phillies will play for first, while the Marlins host the Pirates.