Braves' Rocker can do more than pitch
Posted: Tuesday October 13, 1998 02:17 AM
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, who earned the win Monday night with one inning of perfect relief, helped his team at the plate and on the bases, too.
After Michael Tucker's three-run homer off Kevin Brown gave the Braves a 5-4 lead over the Padres in the eighth of Monday night's Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, Rocker drew a one-out walk from Donne Wall while making his first plate appearance of the season.
"I like hitting," said Rocker, batting for the first time since he played for Class AA Greenville of the Southern League last year. "I go into the cage now and then. I can swing the bat relatively well.
"I can sit here and tell you I probably would have gotten a hit, but I wouldn't have."
Graffanino scored on the throwing error to make it 7-4, and the Braves eventually won 7-6.
"I probably hadn't slid since high school," Rocker said. "That was fun."
Despite allowing nine hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings, Atlanta's John Smoltz, the winningest pitcher in postseason history, said his performance was as good as any in his career.
"I was as prepared as I've ever been, I felt as dominating as I've ever been," said Smoltz, who walked one and struck out eight but allowed two-run homers to Ken Caminiti in the first and John Vander Wal in the sixth.
"I can't explain how they got those [homers]," Smoltz said. "I did not make mistakes. Caminiti and Vander Wal hit two incredible pitches that resulted in four runs. Sometimes, the results don't always reflect your performance."
Smoltz has an 11-3 record in 23 postseason starts.
Vaughn returns to action
Manager Bruce Bochy indicated before Game 5 that Vaughn, who had 50 homers and 119 RBIs this season, would probably start in Game 6 if there is one.
The Braves made sure there will be one by beating the Padres 7-6.
Guillen comes through
Weiss slammed into San Diego catcher Jim Leyritz in Game 3 and was left with a sore neck and shoulder -- and was still out as Leyritz held onto the ball.
Weiss could have played in Game 4, but Guillen got the call and responded with an RBI single in the seventh inning for the go-ahead run in Atlanta's 8-3 victory.
Braves manager Bobby Cox also had a hunch that Guillen might give the team a spark in Game 5, and he was right -- Guillen went 3-for-5.
"I played 14 years in the big leagues and didn't have a chance to play in the postseason, and I think [Cox] put me in to give me a chance to be in one," Guillen said.
Glavine will tie record
Atlanta's John Smoltz set a league championship series record by making his 12th career start Monday night. Because the Braves won, the record won't last long.
When Gomez committed a throwing error trying to nail Rocker at home in the eighth inning Monday night, it was the first San Diego miscue in the series.
It was also the first by the Padres in 83 innings of NLCS play dating back to the sixth inning of Game 1 in 1984 against the Chicago Cubs.
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