That nobody in the league swings better is what made the climax to Saturday's game so unusual. With one out and a runner at third, Braves Manager Bobby Cox intentionally walked Taveras and Moreno to fill the bases, accepted strategy with the home team at bat in a tied, extra-inning game. Cox would have done well to throw away the book, because the walks brought up Parker. Adonis lined the second pitch into right center to end the game. "I don't know why he did it," Parker said, "but when the season ends, I'm going to look back and say 'Thank you.' "
Parker knows full well the critical importance of every game at this time of year. The Pirates have gone on similar hot streaks before and come up short. Last year they won 12 of their last 13 and still finished five back. In 1976 they won 18 of 22 from Aug. 25 to Sept. 17, cutting a 15�-game lead to three, and wound up nine games behind.
As impressive as the Bucs' latest streak is, 14 of the victories came in games with the two bottom teams in the Western Division. Against teams with winning records the Pirates are 30-41, including 3-9 against the Phillies and 6-6 against the division's other contender, third-place Chicago. Still, as Second Baseman Phil Garner points out, "You've gotta get those clubs on the bottom and kick 'em good. You can't let 'em up."
It is not going to be so easy for the Pirates the rest of the way, because they have six more games each with the Cubs and the Phillies. But if the Bucs can hang close until the last week at least they will have the opportunity to win or lose it for themselves; they finish the season at home with three games against Chicago and four against Philly.
"It's war at this time of the year, but I love it," says Tanner. "I like our chances. The way things have gone lately I'm beginning to think we're a team of destiny." He could be dead right.