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Updated: Saturday October 5, 2002 10:20 PM
  MLB RECAP
Atlanta Braves
Team Page |  Schedule |  Injuries
Stats: Batting |  Pitching
R H E
10 10 0
W Greg Maddux
1-0
L Jason Schmidt
0-1
San Francisco Giants
Team Page |  Schedule |  Injuries
Stats: Batting |  Pitching
R H E
2 5 0
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  Greg Maddux
  Keith Lockhart

SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Greg Maddux's blister wasn't much of a factor. Teammate Keith Lockhart's bat was.

Maddux allowed two runs in six innings and Lockhart delivered a three-run homer to cap a five-run sixth as the Atlanta Braves posted a 10-2 rout of the San Francisco Giants and took a two games to one edge in their National League Division Series.

Maddux was pushed back two days after developing a blister on his right index finger. But the four-time Cy Young Award winner showed few lingering effects, allowing five hits and walk. He surrendered a solo homer to Barry Bonds in the sixth but little else in improving to 5-2 in Division Series play.

"It felt fine," Maddux said of the blister. "It came up a little bit in the inning I came out, but overall I felt good. It felt fine, like it did before my last start."

Maddux (1-0) and San Francisco starter Jason Schmidt were locked in a pitchers' duel for five innings, but the Braves broke open a 1-1 game in the sixth. Atlanta took advantage when Schmidt lost the plate, then cashed in against Manny Aybar.

After striking out Julio Franco to open the sixth, Schmidt issued consecutive walks to Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones. San Francisco manager Dusty Baker called on Aybar, who provided little relief.

Aybar's first pitch was ripped to left for a two-run single by Vinny Castilla and his next offering was lofted just over the right field wall by Lockhart for a three-run homer. It was Lockhart's first home run in 79 career postseason at-bats.

"He's a sinker-slider pitcher," Lockhart said. "I was expecting sinkers, so my main game plan was just to try something up the middle. ... When I first hit it, really I kind of just stood there. I thought I hit it better than that and I looked at the flags and they were blowing out, and then he started running towards the wall and as soon as I heard it hit the tin, I was pretty excited."

"Jason had lost control of the strike zone and walked three guys in a row," Baker said. "Manny is probably my best guy down in the bullpen and also has the ability to throw the sinker and slider to try to get a double play. So that's what led to the pitching change."

The 37-year-old Lockhart, who splits time at second base with Mark DeRosa, had just five homers in 296 at-bats during the season.

"Everything happens for a reason," Lockhart said. "The way things have played out this year, coming to spring training as a minor league free agent and making the club and just mainly pinch-hitting ... I've always felt pretty comfortable in postseason when I had a chance to play. I feel like I'm in the right spot."

"He's a good player," Maddux said. "He plays good defense. You can take stats like the average and all that (garbage) and throw it out the window. He comes through for us when it matters, and he does it all the time."

Aybar, who pitched well down the stretch for the Giants, tossed two scoreless innings in Game Two. He refused to talk to reporters following this game.

"I talked to Manny and I tried to keep it positive with him," San Francisco catcher Benito Santiago said. "He's young and you want to make sure he doesn't take it personally."

"I didn't hear anyone say anything," Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said of the Aybar situation. "I stay out of the decisions here. I'm not a second-guesser and I'm not going to start."

Schmidt (0-1) allowed just three hits but walked four and was charged with four runs. He struck out five in his first career postseason appearance.

"I tried to be too careful with the batters," Schmidt said. "I thought when they took me out they wanted Manny to get a double play ball. I just threw too many pitches. I felt too strong out there, I never found my groove. I was a little too aggressive with some batters when I should have thought about them a bit."

The Braves' vaunted bullpen did a spectacular job as Chris Hammond, Mike Remlinger and Kevin Gryboski tossed a perfect inning apiece.

Game Four is Sunday, with the Braves sending Game One loser Tom Glavine to the mound against Giants righthander Livan Hernandez, who is 5-0 lifetime in the postseason.

"I expected it to be tough series for us," Santiago said. "I certainly hope Livan steps up for us. It comes down to the fact we have to win."

The Giants broke on top with a run in the opening inning and had two aboard with one out when Santiago bounced into a double play.

Rafael Furcal got the Braves even in the third, ripping a triple over the head of Bonds in left and scoring on a groundout by Julio Franco.

The Giants threatened in the third, putting two aboard for Bonds, but Maddux made a great pitch on 2-1 and the San Francisco superstar grounded sharply into a forceout.

"He got himself out, I didn't," Maddux said.

After the Braves broke open the game in the sixth, Bonds got San Francisco within 6-2 in the sixth with his second homer of the series.

The Braves tacked on four runs in the ninth against four relievers. Infield hits by Furcal, Franco and Chipper Jones set the stage for a two-run single by Andruw Jones that highlighted the outburst.

San Francisco is 0-3 in Game Three of Division Series and just 9-9 in home playoff games.

© 2002 Sportsticker
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