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San Diego Gets Aced Out by Tucker, 7-6

NLCS: Kevin Brown, pitching in relief, gives up three-run home run in eighth inning as Braves rally to send series back to Atlanta.

October 13, 1998|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Surprisingly, Michael Tucker was one of the few Atlanta Braves who had success against Kevin Brown. Everyone knows it now.

Tucker's three-run homer with one out in the eighth inning off the San Diego ace, who was making a rare relief appearance, gave Atlanta the lead and the Braves went on to beat the Padres 7-6 in Game 5 of the National League championship series.

Thus the Padres, who won the first three games of the series, take a 3-2 lead to Atlanta for Game 6 on Wednesday.

Tucker, a left-handed hitter, had just 29 hits in his final 156 at-bats of the season, a .186 average. He hit only two homers after the All-Star break.

He hit .277 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs before the break and finished with a .244 average, 13 homers and 46 RBIs.

Tucker, seven for 15 against Brown in his career, had just two hits in seven at-bats and no RBIs with four strikeouts in the first four games of the NLCS, and didn't start Game 3 against left-hander Sterling Hitchcock.

Tucker, booed when he came to the plate in the top of the eighth, hit a full-count pitch into the right-field seats to breathe life into the Braves.

Tucker, who was three for five, also had RBI singles off Padres starter Andy Ashby in the fourth and sixth innings to drive in the first two Atlanta runs.

The Braves made it a five-run eighth on an RBI double by Tony Graffanino off Donne Wall and a throwing error by shortstop Chris Gomez.

So the Braves, held to three runs on 19 hits in the first three NLCS games, have scored 15 runs on 26 hits in the last two--both comeback victories.

No major league team has ever accomplished what the Braves must do to reach their fifth World Series since 1991--rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 series.

Now, they're halfway there, and on their way home with NL Cy Young Award winners Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux--a combined 38-15 this season--scheduled to face the Padres at Turner Field.

San Diego is the 22nd team in postseason history to take a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series. Of the previous 21, there were 18 sweeps. On the other three occasions, the series ended in five games.

But not this one.

Only two major sports teams -- the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders of the NHL -- have rebounded from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 series.

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