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Braves Avoid Sweep in Grand Style

October 12, 1998|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Just in time, Andres Galarraga and the Atlanta Braves solved San Diego's pitching.

With the Braves facing elimination and trailing in the seventh inning, Atlanta rallied for six runs, capped by Galarraga's 459-foot grand slam, and beat the Padres, 8-3, Sunday in Game 4 to avoid an unthinkable sweep in the National League championship series.

After postseason hero Jim Leyritz hit a solo homer in the sixth that put the Padres ahead, 3-2, Javy Lopez tied the score with a leadoff home run in the seventh.

The Braves went on to load the bases with two out before Galarraga, who had no RBIs and just one single in his 12 previous at-bats this series, unloaded. The "Big Cat" stood at home plate and watched his ball sail into the seats in left-center, hushing the crowd of 65,042 that had come to celebrate.

Ozzie Guillen, who started at shortstop because Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox thought he could get something going, was on third base and turned to watch Galarraga's shot sail away. He threw his hands in the air as he headed for home.

Padre pitching proved to be mortal after all, from starter and loser Joey Hamilton to relievers Randy Myers and Dan Miceli, who gave up Galarraga's slam.

The Braves, batting a lowly .200 after the first three games of the series, finished with 12 hits.

Even the Padres knew it wouldn't be that easy to sweep the Braves. Now, after a good effort from Denny Neagle, Atlanta will come back tonight with John Smoltz. The Padres will counter with Andy Ashby. Both pitchers got no-decisions in Game 1, a 3-2, 10-inning win for the Padres on Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Galarraga hit 44 homers this year, but only two in September and none in October until Sunday. His shot came on a 1-and-0 pitch off Miceli, who had come up big in clutch situations earlier in the playoffs.

It was only the second time the Padres gave up more than two runs in eight playoff games this year.

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