ATLANTA (Ticker) -- A day after wondering if he would be a part of this series,
became a key figure in it.
Furcal's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning capped a wild affair as the
evened their National League Division Series at one game apiece with a 4-2 triumph over the
On Wednesday, Furcal was sentenced to 21 days in jail for a probation violation stemming from a second driving under the influence offense in the last four years. But as part of his agreement, he is under home confinement for the rest of the postseason.
The Braves' 26-year-old shortstop was in the starting lineup for Atlanta's loss in Game One and came through with the biggest hit of Game Two. With
at second base, Houston reliever
(0-1) tried to sneak a pitch past Furcal, who quickly turned on it and golfed it into the right field stands.
"It was a split-finger (fastball)," Miceli said.
"(I) got to the bat, put a lot of concentration," Furcal said. "I (thought) about contact. I (tried) to put the ball in play. (I looked) for something slow inside, then (made) good contact."
Furcal, who never has hit a walk-off home run in the regular season, became the first Brave to do it in the postseason since Eddie Matthews ended Game Four of the 1957 World Series.
"I think he feels just terrible, to be honest with you," Braves manager
said of Furcal's legal woes. "I talked to him, that we would be there for him all the time. Nobody likes to have their name in the paper like that, that's for sure. As much as we can, we want him to forget about it, concentrate on baseball and things will work out very good for him in the future."
Furcal tried to explain what he is going through.
"For me, when I'm coming to the ballpark, I open the door (of) my car, come and walk into the stadium. I forget about everything except the field, put a lot of concentration on the game, (and) forget everything every time I go to the field," Furcal said. "Then after the game, when I go to my house, I think of all my problems."
(1-0) tossed a hitless 11th inning to notch the victory. Alfonseca capped a huge bullpen effort as Atlanta relievers combined on 4 2/3 hitless innings.
"They pitched well," Astros interim manager
said. "They came up with some big hits when they needed them. Yesterday, we got our big hits. Today, they got their big hits. We made pitches we wanted to make, and I'll give them credit, they put them in play and made them count."
Both teams relied heavily on their closers as
tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings - his longest outing in 2004. Atlanta's
went three hitless frames - his longest performance since September 23, 2001.
"He's done that (entered the game in the seventh inning) a couple of times in the course of the season," Garner said of Lidge. "He was well rested. I feel good about it, and I'd do that again."
Smoltz did not mind the extra work, given the circumstances.
"It's a big deal," he said. "It's to the point where we have to fight and claw. If it meant three or four (innings), it didn't matter."
allowed a run and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four in his first career postseason start.
nearly matched Oswalt. He surrendered two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out five.
"I think he made one (mistake), maybe," Cox said. "Hampton really gutted up tonight. I thought to give up four hits to the team was a tremendous performance. (He) clutched it up a couple times. We were looking for that and got it."
After a travel day on Friday, the series resumes Saturday at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros have won 18 straight games. Houston sends
to the mound while Atlanta counters with veteran righthander
"It's a good thing we're going home," Oswalt said. "The goal was to get one of two. We're sitting in a pretty good position. They have to play on our field now. Home-field advantage is a big thing."
The Astros broke on top almost immediately against Hampton as Bagwell homered for the first time in 52 career postseason at-bats. After registering his first career postseason extra-base hit in the series opener, Bagwell is attempting to erase memories of past playoff failures.
Atlanta stranded a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the first and left another runner aboard in the second.
opened the third with a home run in his first career postseason at-bat and Oswalt pitched well with the early lead.
The Braves left two aboard in the third and stranded a runner in the fourth.
Hampton worked into and out of trouble in the fifth but left with one out in the seventh with tightness in his left forearm.
came on and held Houston in check until the eighth.
Oswalt allowed a one-out double in the seventh and Furcal got Atlanta on the board with a single up the middle. It was the Braves' first hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series.
Garner then complained to plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that the phone to the bullpen did not work. After a brief discussion with the umpires and both managers, play resumed and Garner called upon Lidge.
Cox did not feel anything was wrong with the Astros' phone and played the game under protest.
"It just seemed strange to our dugout that Lidge normally pitches in the ninth, or sometimes in the eighth and ninth, and sometimes in the seventh, I guess," Cox said. "We didn't think he was warmed up. They could have had some type of communication problem, but the phone was working. Absolutely, 100 percent. It's irrelevant now and doesn't matter."
"I had Lidge up when the first guy got on in the inning," Garner said. "We kept picking the phone up, picking the phone up and it was busy, busy. You can't see the bullpen from there. My first thought was to send a player down there. If you do that, you're running across the field, they're going to think something's going on."
Furcal stole second and took third when the ball bounced into center field. But with the tying run at third base, Lidge struck out
and escaped the jam when Furcal broke for the plate on a pitch that bounced away.
But the ball did not roll far enough away and Chavez pounced on it - firing to Lidge, who easily tagged out Furcal.
Lidge allowed an infield single by J.D. Drew to open the eighth, but Drew was caught stealing.
walked and took third on a base hit by
launched a game-tying double into the left-center field gap but with runners at second and third with one out,
grounded to third and Thomas - who stranded the bases loaded late in Game One - struck out swinging.
LaRoche was 2-for-2 in the regular season against Lidge.
"Garner had called me and told me that I might come in in the seventh. I was ready," Lidge said. "It's a situation where you have to get the job done and I didn't do it. They did a great job of battling. They didn't lose confidence out there."
Smoltz cruised through the heart of the Houston lineup in the ninth.
Smoltz, who batted just twice in the regular season, opened the bottom of the ninth inning with a base hit in front of right fielder
, who was playing a bit deep. Furcal got down a bunt but Lidge - who never pitched more than two innings in any appearance this season - retired Giles on a weak groundout and struck out Drew.