ATLANTA (Ticker) -- For
, it was even better than playing quarterback in college.
DeRosa, filling in for injured starter
, snapped an eighth-inning tie with a two-out, two-run double as the
posted a 5-3 triumph over the
and evened their National League Division Series at one game apiece.
After Giles suffered a bruised left leg in Game One, DeRosa got the call and came through with the biggest hit of the Braves' season.
walked and Smoltz got down a sacrifice. Chicago manager
opted to walk
, and Veres (0-1) quickly got ahead of DeRosa. But the Braves' reserve buried a 1-2 pitch into left-center field gap, clearing the bases.
"I knew they wanted to come after me," DeRosa said. "Dusty intentionally walked Raffy to get to me. I don't think his idea was to put me on and have to face Sheffield. I was looking for a split-finger and was able to put some good wood on it."
"I thought it was a better matchup facing DeRosa, who hadn't been playing as much than Furcal, who has 194 hits," Baker said. "He's a dangerous man in that situation. I thought it was better to pitch to DeRosa. We had one ball and two strikes and we were one strike away from getting out of that inning. You have to give DeRosa credit. He fouled off some tough pitches."
DeRosa pumped his fist as he pulled into second base with his sixth hit in 13 career Division Series at-bats. The popular backup called the double his biggest moment in sports, even better than rallying the University of Pennsylvania to a win over Ivy League rival Cornell in 1994.
"Nothing compares to this," DeRosa said. "Coming from behind to beat Cornell, that's important. But I don't think it compares to this. My first home run in my career, it didn't compare to this."
"Unbelievable, it goes vicariously through him," Giles said. "It felt like I got the hit. I'm so happy for him. He's ready to do it. When I'm out like tonight, you can count on him to do a great job. It makes my decision easier."
The series switches to Wrigley Field in Chicago for the next two games. Friday's Game Three matchup is a potential classic with Chicago sending
to the mound against former Cub
"We would prefer to go home 2-0, but usually when you come into the ballpark, usually that's what you hope for is 1-1 so you can go back home," Baker said. "I feel very good about Prior going for us on Friday."
The Cubs, who upended Atlanta and 21-game winner
in Game One, looked like they were headed to a big early lead in this one. Hampton could not find the plate, walking
to open the contest.
doubled off the top of the wall in center field, scoring Lofton.
grounded to third, but Castilla failed to get Grudzielanek at the plate, making it 2-0. A single by
loaded the bases, and Cox got
up in the bullpen. But Hampton regrouped and struck out the next three batters on 11 pitches.
"It was probably the ballgame," Cox said. "His first seven outs were recorded by strikeouts, and he had the stuff. He just got off target the first couple of hitters and got one sort of down the middle to Sosa and he popped it. After that, I think they got only two hits the rest of the evening. I thought Hampton pitched one of the better games. Rule out the first inning, but the rest of it was good. He was pretty much on the outstanding side."
"When the pitcher makes great pitches, there's nothing you can do about it," Sosa said. "That's what happened in the first inning. He came back and regrouped."
After Atlanta got a run in the bottom of the first on a groundout by
, Hampton struck out the side in the second and tied the postseason record of six straight strikeouts. St. Louis reliever
was the last pitcher to do it in the 1985 World Series.
Atlanta got even on an RBI hit by
in the fourth and took the lead two innings later when Giles, pinch-hitting for Hampton, singled to center to score
The Cubs knotted the game against Smoltz in the eighth as back-to-back one-out singles by
and former Brave
put runners on the corners. Pinch hitter
lofted a sacrifice fly.
"One-run lead, it didn't feel great, but my job was to obviously hold them down," Smoltz said. "I didn't do it in the eighth. I made some bad pitches and fortunately was able to get another chance. I didn't feel my best stuff, but these types of games are sometimes won mentally more than they are with your stuff. Fortunately, I was able to make enough pitches in the ninth inning to get three outs."
Hampton allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. He walked five but tied his postseason career high with nine strikeouts.
"I was able to mix in a cutter," Hampton said. "I had to do that a little earlier, I felt like I had to mix it in earlier. I'm just trying to get outs. I don't care how I get them."
allowed three runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out four in his first postseason appearance.