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Braves Even Series With 7-1 Victory

October 07, 2005|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — The Rocket got rocked by the rookie. Then, while Roger Clemens shuffled uncomfortably on the mound, Brian McCann emerged from the Atlanta Braves' dugout for a most unexpected curtain call.

"I was just sitting back letting him enjoy it over there," Clemens said. "What else can you do?"

McCann hit a three-run homer off Clemens in his first postseason at-bat, sending John Smoltz and the Braves to a 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros on a drizzly Thursday night, tying their best-of-five NL playoff series at one game each.

Smoltz picked up where he left off six years ago, pitching seven strong innings in his first October start since the 1999 World Series.

"There's a thousand emotions going through my head right now," he said. "I'm going to sleep a long time tonight."

Smoltz broke a one-day tie with Houston's Andy Pettitte to reclaim the title of baseball's winningest postseason pitcher, improving to 7-0 in the division series and 15-4 overall.

Then there's McCann, who was batting in the playoffs for the first time when he stepped to the plate in the second inning with two on and two out.

McCann was two months old when Clemens made his major league for Boston in 1984.

With Smoltz on deck, Clemens missed with his first two pitches, then left a fastball over the plate. McCann connected with a 409-foot drive that ricocheted into the Braves' bullpen in right field for a 3-1 lead.

With Smoltz on the mound -- stiff shoulder and all -- the lead was secure.

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