Glavine stifles Diamondbacks; Lopez returns with a bang
Updated: Thursday October 18, 2001 4:36 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- With one swing of the bat, Javy Lopez jolted the Atlanta offense to life and made his manager look like a prophet.
In his first start since he was hurt last month, Lopez broke a tie with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Braves pulled away to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-1 Wednesday night in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
At the pregame news conference, Bobby Cox said Lopez would start to try to give Tom Glavine some run support.
"He's got a chance to really hit the ball out of the ballpark," Cox said.
Lopez did just that when Atlanta needed it most.
"He's one of those guys who can turn a game around with one swing," teammate Brian Jordan said. "That big hit gave us a lot of confidence. Guys just came up swinging the bat after that."
The best-of-seven series is tied at 1 and shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday night.
After Glavine shut down Arizona for seven innings, the Braves turned the game into a rout with five runs off of a parade of old-timers out of the Diamondbacks bullpen.
Before that, it was just the sort of low-scoring pitcher's duel that has been the norm for both teams.
Glavine allowed one run and five hits to improve to 2-0 in this year's playoffs. He struck out two and walked two before giving way to Steve Karsay. As usual, Glavine's biggest weapon was his control as he baffled the Diamondbacks into harmless groundouts and fly balls.
Arizona manager Bob Brenly marveled at the way Glavine was able to tailor his pitches so the batters would be likely to hit where the defense was playing.
"Tom Glavine was every bit as spectacular in his own right as Randy Johnson was, if you ask me," Brenly said. "He pitched right to the strength of his defense. That's pretty crafty."
The victory was crucial for an Atlanta team that didn't want to go home 0-2 and face Curt Schilling in Game 3.
"I always feel like Game 2 is an urgent game in any series. To me it's a huge swing game," Glavine said. "You can either go up two, down two or tie things up. Any of those is vastly different than the other. In this instance, it's probably magnified. We certainly didn't want to go home down 2-0 with the prospect of facing Curt."
Arizona starter Miguel Batista allowed only two hits in seven innings, but both were homers and that was all the support Glavine needed in his 29th postseason start. Batista struck out three and walked two.
Marcus Giles, who came within a foot or less of hitting two out against Johnson in Game 1 Tuesday, homered on the game's first pitch to give Atlanta the quickest 1-0 lead possible.
Batista retired 13 in a row in one stretch and didn't allow another hit until Lopez's first-pitch homer off the right-field foul pole in the seventh put the Braves up 3-1. Batista walked Andruw Jones on four pitches right before allowing the homer.
"As soon as I stepped into the batter's box, I was shooting for right field all the way," Lopez said. "The first pitch around the plate, I was going to swing as hard as I can."
Both Batista and Brenly said the pitch was well off the plate, making a tough one to hit out of the park.
"You can throw that pitch 30 times and if he hits it once, that's not bad," Batista said. 'Look at it, it was 2 1/2 inches off the plate. He was probably just looking for it and got the good part of the bat on it.
That Lopez was playing at all was an upset after he sprained his left ankle in a collision with Robin Ventura at the plate on Sept. 30.
"With a high ankle sprain, it generally takes 6-to-8 weeks," Cox said. "The best we could get from the doctor was a chance for the World Series, and that was probably less than 50-50. They got him ready somehow. It's kind of amazing."
The home run silenced the pom-pon waving crowd of 49,334 -- the second-largest in Bank One Ballpark history.
The crowd had gone wild moments earlier when Matt Williams' two-out single tied the game at 1 in the sixth after the Diamondbacks had squandered scoring threats in the first and fifth. It was the first run Glavine allowed in 14 innings this postseason.
Glavine left the mound obviously angry that umpire Jeff Kellogg had called a ball on a 3-2 pitch to Reggie Sanders with two outs to start the Arizona rally. The show of emotion from the normally mild-mannered left-hander struck a chord in the dugout.
"Tom's a competitive guy," Giles said. "He goes out there for the throat every time. A crucial situation like that that he doesn't get the call that he thought he should have got, and he should be mad. It kind of fired us up a little."
The echoes of trumpeter Jessie McGuire's stirring rendition of the national anthem had barely died down when Giles hit the game's first pitch 383 feet into the left-field seats to give the Braves the quickest lead possible. It was the seventh leadoff homer in LCS history, and first in the National League since Orlando Merced did it for Pittsburgh off Smoltz in 1991.
Notes: Arizona SS Tony Womack, who has a career .077 average against Glavine, missed the game with a sore right calf.... Brenly skipped the pregame manager's news conference because of illness. ... The only larger crowd at Bank One Ballpark was 49,584 for Game 1 of Arizona's Division Series against the New York Mets in 1999. ... The Diamondbacks have 13 runs in seven playoff games.