Atlanta 4 Houston 2 (11 innings)

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap

Life.

The Astros jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of solo homers, one by Bagwell in the first and the other by the utterly homerless this regular season Raul Chavez in the third. Hampton was pitching well besides that, allowing only two other hits; there was a bit of a jam in the fifth, but he got Biggio to ground into a double play.

But while Hampton was keeping it close, there wasn’t much evidence of the Braves actually “being in the game” as Houston held them scoreless through six. But in the seventh, Wise hit for Gryboski (who finished the top of the seventh) and doubled with one out. Furcal singled him home. Garner brought in his closer Lidge — which might have cost him the game. Furcal stole second and reached third on a throwing error by the catcher. And then Marcus struck out swinging. And the ball got away from the catcher during Drew’s at-bat. It looked like Furcal could score… But the ball rolled dead, Chavez picked it up, and Furcal was out by ten feet.

Smoltz came in to start the eighth, and got the Astros 1-2-3. Drew singled leading off the eighth, but was thrown out trying to steal. It looked like it might cost the Braves the game when Chipper walked, then Estrada singled. But LaRoche, maybe the Braves’ best hitter in the series, hit a long run-scoring double to tie it, one that just for a second looked like it would get out, but didn’t, and pinch-runner Betemit was held at third, and again the Braves couldn’t get the runner home with less than two out. And Bobby, bizarrely, ran for LaRoche even though he represented only an insurance run and there was no force in order.

Lidge pitched the ninth, too, and Smoltz led off the inning with a single. I mean, when your closer singles in a postseason game, you have to figure he’s going to score. Furcal bunted and beat the throw, but the umpire called him out anyway. Still, winning run at second, one out. Marcus grounded out to second, Smoltz to third… And Drew strikes out in Sheffieldian fashion.

Smoltz pitched the tenth, and walked two, but got out of it. (His final line: three innings, three strikeouts, the two walks, no hits.) The Astros came back with Dan Miceli, and went 1-2-3. The Braves had Alfonseca start the eleventh, and the Astros went 1-2-3.

Andruw struck out leading off the eleventh. Thomas singled, and Bobby sent up his last bench player, Marrero, to hit. Marrero popped up. Thomas stole second easily. All Furcal needed was a hit to the outfield, because Thomas would score on pretty much anything.

He hit it to the outfield, all right. Well, over the outfield. Series tied, 1-1. Furcal is now hitting .500 for the series.

I’m not prepared to offer a percentage yet. I need to think about it. I think that the Braves need to be favored here on in — the Astros are at home, but will start a weak pitcher Saturday and probably Sunday. On the other hand, Thomson’s and Ortiz’s flyball tendencies… I don’t know.

14 thoughts on “Atlanta 4 Houston 2 (11 innings)”

  1. Those last three innings were the most fun I’ve had all season–if Smoltz does nothing else, he’s the hero of this series for that towering performance. And Furcal homers just after the cameras cut to the next Braves pitcher….Reitsma. Gotta love him bailing us out there. Accolades also have to go to Alfonseca for getting three TOUGH outs in the top of the 11th. To win this series would be a true upset, and the best performance by the Braves in a long, long time. Tonight sure feels a lot better than last night!

  2. Does anyone think the Fox might move game 5 to 7/8 pm vs 4pm considering that it seems unlikly that LA/STL (currently in the 8pm slot) will force a game 5 while it seems MORE likely the braves will..

    I hope we can take the next two.. just wondering if fox would have the game moved…

  3. I would say that Fox would move the game only if the Braves game were the only game that day.

    Anyway, I could do 10 paragraphs on stupid things we did to almost lose this game (How did Betemit not score on LaRoche’s double? Having Giles try to squeeze with a 2-1 count and one out? Is Bobby insane? Did he want him to strike out?), but a win is a win and this weekend suddenly looks a whole lot brighter.

    Now, of the teams trying to pull an upset, the Braves look to have the best chance. The Dodgers and Angels are dead, the Twins missed their chance, but the Braves have grabbed the momentum. We really need to win Game 3 though. I hope Thomson’s back is ok and somebody can figure out what the hell is wrong with Drew.

  4. Rock and roll! Man, it was an amazing game. Due to the ridic start times I was only able to see the latter parts of both games. As I ran from the subway up to my apartment and popped espn on, Furcal had just stolen 2nd and moved to third after his rbi single.

    From then on, it was great to watch. I know people are seeing a lot of moments in which the braves didnt take advantage, but it was pretty freakin cool to see mr. smoltz come in and the team really battle its way back. The bullpen was incredible. no hits in 5.1!

    After game 1 i was feeling really bad re-smoltz. i have been thinking a lot lately about how he wants to be a starter and leo said it really eats at him in the postseason. regular season it can be fun, but he hates sitting over there and seeing some other pitcher give up some runs and in the case of game 1, not even being used at all. Nobody would deny he is our best pitcher. making 8 digits. So we need him to come through right, and he wants to be there in pressure situations. he would have loved to try to match Clemens. But he got his chance and put in one of the best relief appearances you will see – getting through the entire order without allowing a hit, but getting a hit of your own.

    Now I think we have a great piece of momentum. Here’s where our starting pitching shows its advantage. Thomson is not a worse pitcher than Wright or Hampton. all our guys have been pretty interchangeable. But on the other side, Clemens and Oswalt are hands down their best. So we’re all of a sudden looking like the team with the better pitching matchups. iF thomson can pull it off, we have opening day starter Ortiz, who maybe has had time to rest and get back to most-wins-in-past-three-years form.

    And how long has it been since you’ve seen the Braves pull off that kind of victory? The last time we won a walk-off game was what, Andruw taking ball four from the Gambler? Tonight was right up there in entertainment value.

  5. I will never understand how we won this game. Leaving 18 (!!) men on is deadly and even though RF hit a homerun to end it for good, I don’t think the Braves have turned their postseason slump around.

  6. Frank, there were lots of things that went wrong during the game, but we still won. This just show you how much potential this team has. It’s not like we are not hitting well.

    Let’s not forget the great performance by Mike Hampton. Remember he is hurt also.

    You know, it may be good for the Braves to actually leave Atlanta. Giles, Drew and Chipper are either too nervous, too excited, or too tight. They may be able to relax by playing in Houston.

  7. The Braves are still going to have to go through Clemens and possibly Oswalt to win the series. If the Braves win Saturday, I assume Clemens would pitch on three days rest on Sunday and Oswalt on Monday. The Braves have not done well against big-time (and Clemens is about as big tiem as you can get) pitchers in big games.

  8. Hmm.. Didn’t someone post stats for Clemens on 3 days rest? Aren’t they pretty bad? Also, he threw 117 or so on Wednesday. Hopefully we can light him up, if indeed he pitches. Who would the fourth starter be, Miller?

  9. “You know, it may be good for the Braves to actually leave Atlanta. Giles, Drew and Chipper are either too nervous, too excited, or too tight. They may be able to relax by playing in Houston”

    Giles is fine KC.. He is leading the ball club right now and getting big hits.. not everytime but more then the other guys..

  10. Ah.. to answer my earlier question, if someone besides Clemens goes for game 4, it will be the mighty Pete Munro.

  11. MWS, I hate to disagree, but when we win tomorrow we will only have to face Clemens because we will win that one also. It has always been my impression (meaning I’m too lazy to look up stats to support it) that the Braves are generally a better team on the road. Couple that with Clemens’ 117 pitches and three days rest and I think we rock The Rocket.

  12. Well, it has been officially announced, both Clemens and Oswalt will pitch on a three-day rest. For some reason, the Clemens-Oswalt combo doesn’t strike as much fear as the Woods-Prior combo. Do you guys agree?

    I think we have a very good chance to win both games at Houston…as long as Ortiz can find his control for game 4!

  13. Martin. Why, God, why? So, they get the advantage of turning Berkman around, which doesn’t work, then they leave him out there to face consecutive righties? My head’s exploding, which is what our offense needs to be doing. Well, I guess it is in in a kind of condemned building sort of way. RIP JD, Chipper, et al.

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