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Giants Live on Another Day

NL playoffs: Hernandez shuts down the Braves to force decisive Game 5 with 8-3 victory.

October 07, 2002|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — The Atlanta Braves need to figure out what's wrong with Tom Glavine, who hasn't pitched this poorly in October since, well, ever.

At the moment, though, they have more pressing concerns--outlasting the resilient San Francisco Giants chief among them.

The Giants pounded Glavine again and staved off elimination Sunday in Game 4 of the National League division series with an 8-3 victory at Pacific Bell Park.

A raucous sellout crowd of 43,070, the largest in the ballpark's three-year history, watched the Giants win their first postseason game while facing elimination since the 1962 World Series, venting their frustration in blowing out Glavine and the Braves.

The Giants pounded the two-time Cy Young Award winner for the second time in as many starts this series, chasing him after only 2 2/3 innings in his second-shortest playoff appearance, and got more than they needed from Livan Hernandez.

The right-hander continued his postseason dominance of the Braves, pitching 8 1/3 strong innings and departing to a standing ovation, helping the Giants force a decisive Game 5 tonight at Turner Field in Atlanta. "Livan was just on his game and you could tell he wanted it," Giant Manager Dusty Baker said. "He knows we needed it, and he enhanced his reputation as a big-game pitcher."

As a 22-year-old rookie with the Florida Marlins in 1997, Hernandez tied the league championship series record with 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory over the Braves. Hernandez was good against them again Sunday, giving up eight hits and three runs.

Hernandez overcame early command problems, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second when Glavine struck out, and didn't give up a hit until the fifth.

He threw 76 strikes in 117 pitches, striking out six with two walks.

Removed with one out and a runner on first in the ninth, Hernandez, who struggled this season, spun around while waving his cap to the crowd in appreciation. Then he was mobbed by teammates eager for another road game.

"I tried to not put pressure on myself," said Hernandez, 6-0 in seven postseason appearances. "I know it's a big game. I tried to stay in the game longer, and this happened today."

The Giants' staying power has given the Braves a lot to think about.

"The Giants are a pretty good ballclub," Atlanta first baseman Julio Franco said. "They've got a good pitching staff, a good defense, and a lot of great players over there, that's why they're here. You've got to respect them, and we know we've got to beat them."

How bad was Glavine on Sunday? Much worse than in his first start, which tells the whole frustrating story for the Braves. He worked only five innings during an 8-5 loss in Game 1, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in one of his worst playoff performances, but was hurt by several broken-bat bloopers.

That wasn't the case Sunday.

The Giants hit line drives throughout Glavine's shortest playoff appearance since lasting only 2 1/3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2000 division series.

He gave up seven hits and seven runs, increased his earned-run average to 15.26 against the Giants, and lost his second game.

Rich Aurilia hit a two-out, three-run home run in the third to give the Giants a 7-0 lead, sending Glavine to the dugout and searching for answers.

"It was a combination of bad pitching and bad luck, I guess," Glavine said. "I made a couple of decent pitches and got bad results on it, and obviously made some bad pitches and got real bad results on 'em.

"Other than that, I really don't know what to tell you. I feel good. I feel like I'm throwing the ball well. I'm just not executing and getting the results I want."

Glavine, working on three days' rest, did not use fatigue as an excuse.

"Believe me, I wish I could tell you there was a reason why I've pitched as poorly as I have this series, but I can't," he said. "Physically, I feel as good now as I have at any point during the year, so the short rest has nothing to do with it. Obviously, something's not right, and I feel badly I've put our team in this position."

The Giants appreciate the help.

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