This team… Maybe they’re something special. Or maybe it’s just the Astros’ bullpen. It was a very odd game. Darren Oliver started but went only one (1-2-3) inning before leaving with a shoulder problem. That actually worked out for awhile for the Astros because the Braves were setup to face a lefty and the Astros’ pen is largely righthanded. Kirk Bullinger, of all people, threw three innings, which should have been shutout but the Braves got a gift run on a misplayed grounder.
Mike Hampton didn’t have it, though. He walked the bases loaded with two out in the fourth, then allowed a two-run single. He loaded the bases again — two singles and a walk — in the fifth, and Bobby went to Gryboski, who actually got the grounder for once but slapped it with his glove to turn it into an infield single to score a run. Martin came in and walked in a run around two popouts.
Well, it was 5-1 Astros through five, and things looked bleak. But in the sixth, Chipper singled leading off and Andruw hit a rocket off the short wall in left for a long single. Phil Garner went to David “Gryboski” Weathers. Julio doubled in the the Joneses (Andruw would have either been out or stayed at third but for sloppy defense again). And Marrero tied it up with a monster homer off the goofy train.
The Astros eventually ran out of pitchers, which is what happens when your starter leaves after one inning. Brad Lidge, who’s great, got out of a Weathers jam in the seventh and pitched the eighth, but all they had left was Dan Miceli. Drew singled with one out, and Chipper doubled him to third. Andruw was intentionally walked, and normally you’d expect a reliever here but they didn’t have any. Marcus, who was still out of the lineup with a groin pull (he hopes to play tomorrow, and Nick Green looks just awful right now) pinch-hit because the Braves were out of hitters. He hit a sac fly to give the Braves a 6-5 lead.
Great work from the bullpen after the touchy fifth — which after all was a tough spot. Alfonseca pitched the sixth and seventh, walking two but not allowing any hits. Juan Cruz actually pitched the eighth in a tie game, and looked great, finishing with a strikeout. Smoltz was sick, but got through the ninth allowing one hit for the save.
The Phillies are tied with the Padres in the seventh; Millwood left after two innings with an elbow problem. Uh-oh. It appears that Pat Burrell will go on the DL too. And Larry Bowa is still employed! The Marlins and Mets both won… The Braves head to Arizona now.