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NOTES

Facing Hernandez Is Painful Reminder

October 06, 2002|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — How long can the Atlanta Braves carry a grudge?

Well, at least six years, judging by comments Manager Bobby Cox made Saturday about the last game San Francisco Giant right-hander Livan Hernandez started against the Braves in the postseason.

As a 22-year-old rookie with the Florida Marlins in 1997, Hernandez, scheduled to start Game 4 today at Pacific Bell Park, tied the league championship series record with 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory over Atlanta.

The Braves complained about the wide strike zone of Eric Gregg, saying Hernandez's pitches were unhittable because of the former umpire's help, and Cox revisited that topic. Atlanta is leading the best-of-five series, 2-1.

"We could have blown that game wide open in the first inning," Cox said, "but everything he threw was called a strike, and about 90% of them were not even close."

Not surprisingly, Hernandez, who started Game 5 because Kevin Brown had a stomach virus, had a different recollection.

"I was really pitching in that game," said Hernandez, named the most valuable player of the championship series Florida won in six games before defeating Cleveland for the World Series title. "They were looking for an excuse."

Hernandez struggled this season, going 12-16 with a 4.38 earned-run average, but is 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA in six postseason appearances. Hernandez's playoff record, and his history in October against the Braves, prompted Giant Manager Dusty Baker to use a four-man rotation for the series.

"We would much rather go with a rested Livan than somebody else on two or three days' rest," Baker said.

The Braves are turning to Tom Glavine on three days' rest, needing the two-time Cy Young Award winner to rebound quickly after his ineffective five-inning outing in Game 1.

The left-hander, who relies on precision command, threw only 49 strikes in 86 pitches, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in an 8-5 loss. The all-time leader in playoff victories and losses, Glavine said his approach won't change much today.

"There will be some things I'll do differently, but not anything in terms of my mechanics," he said. "I thought I threw the ball well. I just didn't get good results."

*

Second baseman Keith Lockhart enjoyed a moment in the spotlight after hitting the first playoff home run of his career in the Braves' five-run sixth inning Saturday.

"Well, everything happens for a reason," he said. "I've always felt pretty comfortable in the postseason when I had a chance to play, and I feel like I'm in the right spot. Bobby has had a lot of confidence in me the whole time, and I'm just glad I can give something back."

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