Braves Late-Inning Magic Does it Again
Kelly Meter: Kelly went 1/4 with an important single in the seventh inning rally but dropped his average to .291 on the season. Something very surprising has been the difference between Johnson at and away from Turner Field. Away he is hitting .340/.446/.574 and at the Ted that line is .258/.424/.485. I don't know why, hopefully this is just a small slide though.
The Braves send Tim Hudson to the mound tomorrow to try and lock down the series win against David Wells at 1:05 ET.
For the second straight game the Braves put together a late-inning rally off one of the best bullpens in the game to catapult them to a 2-1 series lead. The Smoltz-Maddux matchup was better than anticipated, and even though Maddux's single off Smoltz gives him some bragging rights, John Smoltz came out with the win to improve to 5-1 on the season. The Braves ace went 7 innings, allowing two solo homers, and striking out seven, while Maddux left with the lead after 5.1 innings of one-run ball. The bullpen is what really decided the game though, and for the second straight night the Braves were able to get it done against a usually dominant pen. Cla Meredith came on in relief of Greg Maddux with a runner on third and one out and made short work of Jeff Francoeur and Scott Thorman to strand the runner, but just couldn't get it done in the seventh as he allowed two runs and coughed up the lead. After that it was the same story we have seen over and over since Bob Wickman went on the DL; Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano came on and dominated the opposition to close out the game with Soriano picking up the save. The two combined for two perfect innings while striking out 3.
The offense was pretty quiet through the first six innings, collecting only four hits and one run on a Willie Harris RBI single, but the real action started in the seventh. After two quick ground-outs by Chris Woodward and Pete Orr, the Braves rallied for two runs to take the lead (Do you notice a pattern with this two-out stuff?) off singles by Kelly Johnson and Willie Harris, a ground-rule double by Chipper Jones, and another opposite field single by Andruw Jones. The Braves took advantage of a slow pitcher to the plate and a horrible arm behind the plate with Willie Harris and even Andruw Jones getting in on the action and swiping bases. Andruw went 2/4 with the game-winning RBI, Willie Harris went 2/3 in the two spot, and Brian McCann continued his slide going 0/4.