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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / NATIONAL LEAGUE

Two Aces Have Been Trumped by Cards

Game 2: St. Louis takes commanding 2-0 edge in series by pounding Glavine, 10-4. Maddux might try again Saturday.

October 06, 2000|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ST. LOUIS — If, as Chipper Jones noted, the Atlanta Braves played like the Bad News Bears behind Greg Maddux in Game 1 of the division series with the St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Glavine delivered the bad news himself in Game 2 Thursday.

It was so bad, in fact, that Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone, accustomed to years of dominating performances by Maddux and Glavine in the postseason, said "the last two days have kind of left us in shock-mode in the dugout."

Not the Cardinals, however.

They pounded Glavine for six hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings of a 10-4 victory and have now accumulated 15 hits and 12 earned runs in only 6 1/3 innings against the two Atlanta aces.

"No one in here is shocked," said left fielder Ray Lankford, one of four left-handed-hitting Cardinals to contribute big hits off the left-handed Glavine. "We didn't know how or by how much, but we felt we could beat them. Maybe they underestimated us and that's why they're a little shocked."

The Cardinals won 31 of their last 44 regular season games and haven't missed a beat against the Braves, who are now confronted by the dark and familiar memories of other Octobers. Only one team--the Boston Red Sox last year--has ever come back to win a five-game series after losing the first two, but that is only one of the hurdles facing Atlanta, which must also overcome the constant reminders that one World Series triumph is a negligible dividend for eight consecutive division titles in the '90s and not the stuff of a dynasty.

If the burdened Braves are now going to turn their ninth consecutive division title into a second World Series win, if they are going to come back from 0-2 against a team that has ripped their two best pitchers, it might have to start with Maddux coming back on three days of rest in Atlanta on Saturday.

Manager Bobby Cox wouldn't make that official, but he used Andy Ashby and John Burkett in relief Thursday, and his only other option is Kevin Millwood, who went from 18-7 last year to 10-13 this year.

"We're going to find out a lot about ourselves now," Glavine said, characterizing his second-shortest postseason start as his worst.

"I wanted to give us the opportunity to win and didn't. There's never a good time to have a bad game, but this was a particularly bad time. I was always behind in the count, and when they weren't hitting some of the few decent pitches I threw, they were hitting all the bad ones even better."

In a duel of the National League's only 20-game winners, Darryl Kile was the easy victor, giving up four hits in seven innings and retiring 13 in a row after the Braves scored twice in the first. Another roaring and red-clad crowd of 52,389 at Busch Stadium saw the Cardinals come right back in the home half of the first.

Setting the tone, left-handed-hitting leadoff man Fernando Vina singled, left-handed-hitting Jim Edmonds walked and left-handed-hitting Will Clark, continuing to compensate big time for the injury to Mark McGwire, slugged a three-run homer for a 3-2 lead that Kile didn't relinquish--and that was only the start.

Glavine, who ended the regular season with 14 scoreless innings and carried an 8-1 career record at Busch, would yield a solo homer to the right-handed-hitting Carlos Hernandez in the second and three more runs in the third, when Edmonds and Lankford both doubled, the latter driving in two.

"You have to get Glavine early," Vina said. "Let him get his rhythm and it's lights out, there's no stopping him."

There has been no stopping the Cardinals, who not only got that go-ahead homer from Clark, who hit 12 homers and drove in 42 runs in 51 games after his July 31 acquisition from Baltimore, but also a dramatic homer from the man he's replacing.

Sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee and possibly facing surgery when the season ends, McGwire delivered a pinch-hit homer to dead center off Mike Remlinger in the eighth. Both fans and teammates went a little crazy.

"Unbelievable," Edmonds said. "Every time he goes out there it's a different experience."

Edmonds was a bit unbelievable himself.

The former Angel--oh well, the Angels emerged with Ron Gant and Adam Kennedy for that swell trade--set a division series record with three doubles, made a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch of a Rafael Furcal drive to the warning track in center (Edmonds said he doesn't rate them, but McGwire called this superior to the Kansas City catch off David Howard that is still shown on highlight films) and repeatedly elicited chants of "MVP" from the crowd.

"These people have been unbelievable all year," Edmonds said of the fans. "There's nothing like playing here, and I hope they understand how much I appreciate it. I'm just very glad the Angels traded me here or I would have been forced to explore free agency."

One victory away from the NL's championship series, Edmonds said it would be a mistake for the Cardinals to become comfortable and complacent. Some of his teammates remember 1996, when the Braves won three in a row from St. Louis after trailing, 3-1, to win the seven-game NLCS.

"Any time you have success you try to draw on it," said Glavine. Manager Bobby Cox reflected on '96 and said: "We could very well pull that off again. We've still got good pitching. We won 15 in a row this year."

It's just that the Cardinals have left that pitching not looking quite as good, and as Chipper Jones said of his Bad News Bears, "We've stunk."

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