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Baseball Playoffs | SAN DIEGO vs. ATLANTA REPORT /
Notes

Patience Pays Off for Slumping Brave Batters

October 14, 1998|JASON REID

The Atlanta Braves were frustrated at the plate, failing to produce against the San Diego Padres.

Padre pitchers limited the Braves to only 19 hits in the first three games. Something needed to change, or the Braves were finished.

Something did.

In Games 4 and 5, the Braves had 12 and 14 hits, respectively. After scoring only three runs through three games, they have scored 15 in the last two combined.

What happened?

"We just started being more patient at home plate, being more patient every time we hit," said Andres Galarraga, among those leading the resurgence.

"Sometimes, you put too much pressure on yourself.

"You have to take your time, and remember all the good things you know how to do. That's what we talked about."

Hitting instructor Clarence Jones did most of the talking.

"These guys have been battling all year, and they put up numbers," Jones said. "The thing I didn't want was for them to forget about that, which is easy to do when you're facing guys [the Padre staff] with stuff like theirs.

"We just talked about laying off some pitches early in the count, and making them throw us strikes. We needed to make them start throwing us some pitches to hit. We weren't doing that, and it's as simple as that."

*

Padre right-hander Kevin Brown lost his aura of invincibility after his shaky relief performance in Game 5.

Brown took the loss after giving up a momentum-shifting, three-run home run to Michael Tucker in a five-run eighth inning.

"Kevin Brown is a great pitcher, but I think he has given up hits before," Atlanta's Andruw Jones said. "We have a lot of great hitters on this team."

Said Atlanta left-hander Denny Neagle: "I'm sure all the fans, and everyone watching on TV, thought that the game was over the second Brown came in.

"But we never believed that."

*

Greg Vaughn is scheduled to start in left field for the Padres today. He strained his left quadriceps when he slipped on the wet grass in Game 1. He pinch-hit in the ninth Monday, striking out on three pitches from Greg Maddux.

"I have a tough act to follow, don't I?" Vaughn said, alluding to the big plays made by his replacements, John Vander Wal and Ruben Rivera. Vander Wal, acquired because he hits Brave pitching so well, hit a two-run homer off John Smoltz to put the Padres up, 4-2, Monday night. Rivera scored a key run in the 3-2, 10-inning win in the first game.

"It's going to feel good for me to get back out there," said Vaughn, who hit 50 homers.

TODAY'S PITCHERS

PADRES' STERLING HITCHCOCK

(9-7, 3.93 ERA)

vs.

BRAVES' TOM GLAVINE

(20-7, 2.47 ERA)

Site-Turner Field

Time--1:15 p.m. PDT, Ch. 11

* Update--This is a matchup of left-handers. Glavine hopes to prolong the Braves' season and force a decisive Game 7. Hitchcock gets the assignment because San Diego Manager Bruce Bochy gambled--and lost--by pitching staff ace Kevin Brown in relief in Game 5. Otherwise, Brown would be starting today. Hitchcock defeated Greg Maddux in Game 3, and Houston Astro ace Randy Johnson in the division series clincher.

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