ATLANTA (Ticker) -- On three days' rest, Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves looked tired and sloppy. One more loss and they will have the whole offseason to rest.
Maddux pitched poorly and got no help from his defense in his shortest postseason outing and Craig Counsell remained red-hot with three hits and four RBI as the Arizona Diamondbacks posted an 11-4 triumph over the Braves in Game Four of the National League Championship Series.
The four-time Cy Young Award winner did nothing to remove his tag as a poor postseason performer. In three-plus innings, Maddux (0-2) was tagged for six runs -- four earned -- and eight hits.
Maddux surrendered a two-run lead, fell to 10-13 in postseason play and remained winless since August 21 -- a span of 10 starts. Over that span, his ERA is 4.11, but none of Maddux's previous outings were as crucial as Saturday's.
Lopez lasted just three innings, allowing single runs in the first and second. Brian Anderson (1-0) picked up the win, yielding a run and four hits in 3 1/3 innings before Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly began piecing together the final three innings.
The Braves face a must-win situation Sunday against overpowering 21-game winner Randy Johnson, who struck out 11 in a three-hit shutout in Game One.
Arizona has won five straight games at Turner Field, outscoring Atlanta, 35-7.
"Our team is excited now," Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez said. "We've got one of our two-headed horsemen going tomorrow. We are nine innings away. ... We are kind of a blue collar ballclub, we are not going to take them lightly. We know what their club is capable of doing."
"It isn't going to be easy, that is for sure," Arizona first baseman Mark Grace added. "I don't think you are ever going to see Greg Maddux -- for lack of a better phrase -- bow out like that. To our credit, we took advantage of their miscues."
If Atlanta is looking for some positives, it can take solace in the fact it has rallied from a 3-1 deficit before in the NLCS. In 1996, the Braves erased a similar deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals, but the final two games of that series were in Atlanta.
"Don't give up on us," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "Come out and support us tomorrow tonight. We beat Randy Johnson once this year. It can't get any worse than it did tonight."
"We've been in this position against the Cards before and we have played good baseball," Maddux added. "We've got to win. We've been there before."
Maddux ran into trouble immediately but stranded runners at second and third when Steve Finley lined out to shallow right. The Braves seemed poised to capitalize on the momentum swing as Jones launched an RBI double to the right-center field gap in the bottom of the first inning.
Andruw Jones opened the bottom of the second with his second postseason homer. But things began to fell apart for Maddux and the Braves in the third.
Tony Womack reach on an error by Chipper Jones but was caught stealing. Counsell reached on a throwing error by shortstop Rey Sanchez and took third on a single by Gonzalez. Reggie Sanders followed with a comebacker that was fielded by Maddux, an 11-time Gold Glove winner. Maddux appeared to have Counsell trapped off third base, but Chipper Jones was late getting to the bag and the bases were loaded.
"My first instinct is to break to the ball," Chipper Jones explained. "So I broke left. Once I broke left, I can't get back in time. I would have liked to have seen Greg pump-fake to third and throw to first. It seemed like Counsell got off just far enough to get Greg to go after him."
Finley took advantage of the mental lapse by lining a pitch back through the box that Maddux got a glove on. As he scrambled to recover, Maddux fired a bullet just wide of the plate and catcher Paul Bako failed to make a play, allowing Counsell and Gonzalez to score. Matt Williams and Grace followed with RBI singles for a 4-2 lead.
"We're playing like the 'Bad News Bears' out there," Braves right fielder Brian Jordan said. "We gave two games away, I feel. You give teams four or five outs an inning, you shouldn't expect to win. It was embarrassing today. It was really embarrassing to get this far and all of a sudden, you can't play defense and you are making mental lapses."
"You screw up, you ain't got no excuses," Sanchez added. "That's the bottom line. I guess we're trying to do too much out there. They still gotta win one more. This team is capable of winning three in a row."
Maddux tried to explain his thought process during the inning, first about the ball off his glove, then about the comebacker.
"You don't expect to throw the ball away. When I threw the ball away, I was shocked," he said. "(On Sanders' comebacker), I didn't want to throw into third. I had to look Counsell back and I didn't feel like I had a play at home and it didn't work out. If I had to do it over again, I would try to sell the play at second."
The Diamondbacks appeared stunned by the display of poor fielding and baseball sense.
"I don't know if you will ever see Rey Sanchez make two errors in a game or Greg Maddux make poor decisions," Grace said. "But they did and we took advantage of it. That's to our credit. Sometimes the unexplainable happens and you have to kick the door in."
"I've marveled at Greg Maddux as a player, as a coach, as a broadcaster and now as a manager -- his ability to help himself by fielding his position. It was just so out of character to see the plays that happened tonight that there's no way you could predict that," Brenly said. "There's no way you could expect that. I think the way this postseason has gone, we can expect the unexpected."
Atlanta put two runners on in the bottom of the third, but Lopez retired Andruw Jones on a line drive to first. Maddux was responsible for his own mess in the fourth.
Pinch hitter David Dellucci opened the inning with a single, Womack doubled to left and Counsell made it 6-2 with a double to left. That finished Maddux and Mike Remlinger prevented any further damage.
Anderson took over for Lopez in the fourth and allowed a leadoff double to Sanchez before walking pinch hitter Bernard Gilkey. But Javy Lopez popped out and rookie Marcus Giles bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Atlanta got within 6-3 in the seventh. Giles and Julio Franco strung together one-out singles and Morgan replaced Anderson. The veteran righthander caught Chipper Jones looking at a third strike but surrendered an RBI single to Jordan. With the tying run at the plate, Swindell got B.J. Surhoff -- who homered off the veteran lefthander in Game Two -- on a popout to second.
"Last time didn't matter," Swindell said. "Today would have tied the game. I made a pitch and he popped it up."
The Diamondbacks pushed across an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI double by Counsell, but Atlanta got within 7-4 in the bottom of the inning.
Andruw Jones, Sanchez and pinch hitter Dave Martinez opened the eighth with singles and Brenly turned to Kim, who got Javy Lopez to bounce into a double play before getting Giles on a line drive to third.
"I swung as hard as I could," Javy Lopez said. "It got in on me for a double play. Nobody wants to make mistakes, but we made four mistakes that cost us."
"It was the most exciting moment of the game," Kim said. "I threw the ball where I wanted to. I got the double play ball. I threw the ball as hard as I could and got the results I wanted."
Arizona ended any final comeback hopes Atlanta may have had with four runs in the ninth. Counsell had an RBI single and Gonzalez hit his second postseason homer for an 11-4 cushion.