John Smoltz must be wondering if the Braves hitters don’t want him to pile up saves. The game was 4-4 entering the ninth when the Braves scored seven runs, four off of Eric Gagne of all people, capped by Javy Lopez’s three-run homer — the third game in a row in which he’s had a late homer to put the game away. This time, Smoltz sat down rather than pitch with a seven-run lead.
Jung Bong pitched 2 2/3 for the win. It was a pseudo-vulture win; Bong came in with a runner on second and a tie game; he promptly gave up a single to tie the game. But he didn’t allow another hit and was the Braves’ most successful pitcher on the night, so we can forgive him. Shane Reynolds started and was adequate, putting up a bunch of threes — three hits, three walks, three runs. He left with a lead but Hodges and Bong combined to allow the tying run.
Gary Sheffield had a perfect night — 2-2 with a ninth-inning double and three walks. The Braves had nine walks in all, seven from the first four hitters. See what patience can do for you? Gary is now hitting a Bondsian, or at least Sosan, .350/.450/.642.
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