The Braves finished off the sweep with a half-easy, half-difficult game. The Braves took an early lead again with two first-inning runs, but the Rockies rallied to tie in the third. In the bottom of the fourth, the Braves got their big inning, scoring three runs, then made it 6-2 in the fifth. They should have cruised from there, but Alfonseca gave up a two-run double to Vinny in the seventh, needing Martin to bail him out with two out, and the game tightened up from there. Reitsma and Smoltz closed it out, though.
Another good game for Furcal, 2-4 with a walk, a run, and a stolen base. Charles Thomas drove in two runs, going 1-3 with a walk. Andruw was boom or bust, with two singles but two strikeouts. The Braves’ only extra-base hit was a double by LaRoche in the fourth that keyed the inning. They struck out nine times, including seven against the bullpen, a big factor in their inability to stretch the lead.
Mike Hampton gave up two runs in six innings. It was almost three, but Drew and Giles combined to throw a runner out at the plate, turning Helton’s bases-clearing double to a mere two-run affair and letting Hampton get out of the inning still tied.
A Marlin loss to the Giants gives the Braves a 9 1/2 game lead and reduces the magic number to 28. Those Giants come to town for one of those weird wraparound series starting tomorrow night. Saturday’s game is a Fox game, Sunday the ESPN night game.
Vinny in 2005!