1995 Atlanta Braves Retrospective

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June 17, 1995
Atlanta Braves 7 (W: Avery, 2-4)
Colordo Rockies 1 (L: Acevedo, 3-6)
27-20
2nd place
3 games behind

AVERY GETS WIN AS JUSTICE RETURNS; VALENZUELA CAN'T WIN DESPITE 11-RUN LEAD;
CONE LOSES NO-NO IN 9th


Steve Avery, sufferer of a lack of run support in too many games, got all the runs he'd need before he ever took the mound. After even more runs in the second, Avery hit cruise control, and with the game in hand, Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox got his bullpen some work as the Braves continued their mastery over the Colorado Rockies with a 7-1 triumph at Coors Field tonight. The win also saw the return to the Atlanta lineup of rightfielder David Justice, who has missed 21 games with a torn ligament in his shoulder. Justice, he of the sweet swing and movie star good looks, went 1-for-4 as he drove in two runs and scored another while striking out three times. The return of Justice also signals the return of recent leadoff batter Brian Kowitz to the minors at Richmond.

In front of over 50,000 fans, the Braves roared out to a quick lead against Colorado starter and losing pitcher Juan Acevedo. After retiring Marquis Grissom, who returned to the leadoff spot, with a pop out to first, Acevedo gave up a single to Jeff Blauser and then walked Chipper Jones before giving up a single to Fred McGriff that scored Blauser for the game's first run. A passed ball by Jorge Brito moved McGriff to second, and Justice signaled his return with a single to center that scored both Jones and McGriff to give Atlanta a 3-0 lead. Justice then moved to second on a Ryan Klesko single and crossed the plate on Ellis Burks's error. Only a double play off the bat of Mark Lemke stalled the Atlanta rally, and Avery took the mound with a 4-0 lead. And though he allowed two baserunners in the first, he navigated the damage with no runs. In the second, Grissom homered, Jones doubled, and McGriff homered, and the Atlanta offense took the rest of the day off with a touchdown lead. A single by Brito and a double by John Vander Wal gave the Rockies a run in the bottom of the second, but it was all they got. Avery hit his stride and retired the last eight batters he faced before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth. The Atlanta relievers went four innings and allowed only three baserunners - to via hit - and closed out the 7-1 win with Mark Wohlers on the mound. Dante Bichette did extend his hitting streak to 23 games.

The combatants combined for eight home runs at Wrigley Field, and the Dodgers got the best of the Cubs by a 5-3 count in homers and a 12-5 count on the scoreboard as Ramon Martinez won his seventh game. Cincinnati blew the three-run lead but a Jeff Branson RBI single in the bottom of the eighth was enough to carry the Reds to a 5-4 win over the Expos as Jeff Brantley got his seventh save of the year. Despite slugging his first MLB home run since 1990, Fernando Valenzuela could not pitch well enough to make five innings despite having an 11-0 lead in the third inning. Granted, his defense let him down with three unearned runs, but Fernando was pulled after giving up 8 runs before reaching the five-inning threshold for the win. San Diego did, however, hold on to beat Pittsburgh by the same 11-8 score on the board when Fernando left the game. Mark Carreon hit a two-run homer that lifted the Giants to a 4-1 win over the Cardinals that gave Jose Bautista his second win of the year. A five-run top of the first was enough run support to carry Doug Drabek to a 7-3 win over prize prospect Bill Pulsipher and the Mets as Craig Biggio homered for the seventh time. The Marlins blew a 4-0 lead in the sixth to lose, 11-4, to the Phillies.

David Cone was two outs from a no-hitter when Benji Gil tagged him for a single during a 4-0 Toronto lead. The Blue Jays then fell apart as an Alex Gonzalez error led to three unearned runs for the Texas Rangers. With the tying run at third and the winning run at bat, Cone struck out Pudge Rodriguez to end the game with a 4-3 Blue Jay win. Five RBIs by Edgar Martinez ended a five-game Seattle losing streak in a 6-4 win over the Twins that lifted Chris Bosio's record to 5-0. Three-run homers by Craig Paquette and Terry Steinbach ended the Royals's seven-game winning streak as Oakland won, 7-5. A Juan Samuel double in the eighth extended Baltimore's losing streak to six games in a 5-3 Detroit win. Cleveland's Herbert Perry hit the first two homers of his young career as Bud Black won a 7-4 decision over Andy Pettite of the Yankees. Rookie Steve Sparks dazzled and came within one out of his first career shutout before giving up a home run to Mo Vaughan. Still, Sparks beat Roger Clemens and the Red Sox, 9-1, for the second win of his young Milwaukee career. And then there was the pair of comebacks that defied logic in California.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the Angels managed to tie the game without so much as a base hit. J.T. Snow was hit by a Rob Dibble pitch and then moved to second thanks to defensive indifference. Jim Edmonds drew a walk that saw Snow take third when ball four was a wild pitch. Scott Radinsky then walked Spike Owen to load the bases and was replaced by Roberto Hernandez, who first hit Garrett Anderson and then walked Gary DeSarcina to tie the game - and get Manager Terry Bevington tossed when he complained. In the 11th, three singles delivered a win to California that even pitcher Mark Langston said was "Unbelievable."

Mitch Williams, best-known for the series ending home run he surrendered in 1993, was released by the Angels and announced his retirement from baseball. Roberto Alomar set an AL record with his 90th consecutive game without an error at second base.
 

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June 18, 1995
Atlanta Braves 9 (W: Mercker, 4-3)
Colorado Rockies 4 (L: Freeman, 2-4)
28-20
2nd place
3 games behind

MERCKER COMPLETES ATLANTA'S DOMINANT SWEEP OF ROCKIES; BICHETTE STREAK REACHES 23 GAMES


Kent Mercker is the engima of the Atlanta Braves' best starting rotation in baseball. Here is a pitcher who entered his 38th career start at Coors Field tonight with an overall record of 24-17 and coming off the worst start of his brief career but has also pitched two no-hitters during that time, a combined effort in 1991 and a complete game last year. But don't quote those statistics to the Colorado Rockies, a team Mercker has made his personal toy. Mercker took the mound in the worst pitcher's park in baseball tonight and left the mound after eight innings that saw him give up only four hits and two runs. The night's work lifted Mercker's career record against the Rockies to 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA, statistics that shine brightly even in the solar system of Atlanta's stellar starters.

Braves games with the Rockies are predictable. The Braves will throw a super starter on the mound, he will hold the potent Colorado bats to few opportunities, the Braves will have at least one three- or four-run innings, and at the end of the game, the Braves will have the most runs on the scoreboard. The Braves are now 27-3 against the Rockies since they entered the league in 1993 - and one of the Colorado wins was a rain-shortened six inning game last August where they beat Tom Glavine, 1-0, while another saw the Braves blow a lead late with an eighth inning error last month. The Braves have also had at least one three-run inning in 18 of the contests and at least one four-run inning in ten of them. Tonight - just like last night - the Braves got the four-run inning out of the way before Mercker ever set foot on the Coors Field mound.

Five first-inning singles and a walk sent four runners across the plate for Atlanta in the top of the first as the Braves batted around, Mercker grounding out with runners at the corners to end the inning. Mercker walked leadoff batter Mike Kingery and then retired the next eight Colorado batters before facing Kingery again, who doubled for Colorado's first hit. By the time Kingery reached second, the deficit was 5-0 courtesy of a Ryan Klesko solo dinger in the top of the third. It wasn't until Ellis Burks led off the fifth with a solo shot that Colorado put a run on the board, but the Braves got the run right back when Klesko led off the sixth with a double and gave way to the speedy Mike Kelly, who scored on Mark Lemke's single to right. Dante Bichette then drove home Walt Weiss with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, but Colorado failed to rally even though Bichette somehwat surprisingly stole third.

It was former Braves all over as Vinny Castilla, lost to the expansion draft, was playing third for the Rockies while Marvin Freeman was the starter and losing pitcher. Freeman gave way to Armando Reynoso, who returned to the Colorado lineup after missing over a year due to elbow problems. Reynoso yielded singles by Jeff Blauser and Fred McGriff and a double by Mike Kelly that scored both runners to extend the Atlanta lead to 8-2. Blauser, who went 3-for-5 on the night, drove Marquis Grissom home with Atlanta's ninth and final run in the eighth. Mercker gave way to Brad Clontz to work the ninth and the rookie former closer got into trouble quickly as he gave up a walk and two hits and also hit Ellis Burks with a pitch to score two Colorado runs and bring in Pedro Borbon Jr. to record the game's final out. Colorado has the best offense in the National League, but Atlanta's pitching held the Rockies to five runs and 18 hits in their own crib. And bear in mind that neither Greg Maddux nor Tom Glavine pitched in the series. The win leaves Atlanta three games behind Philadelphia in the NL East while the loss has narrowed Colorado's lead in the West to a mere 1/2 game ahead of the Giants.

The Giants beat the Cardinals, 6-1, as Mark Portugal pitched a complete game five-hitter while Royce Clayton rapped three doubles and new acquisition Mike Morgan got the loss. Darren Daulton usually gets Sundays off but with Lenny Dykstra, Gregg Jefferies, and Dave Hollins all out with injuries, "Dutch" made a rare Sunday appearance and made the difference, slugging a two-run homer in a 3-3 game in the eighth that carried Curt Schilling to his fifth win of the season, a 5-3 Philly triumph over Florida. The Cincinnati Reds blew another lead, this time a 5-1 margin, but they came back as they usually do for a 10-7 win thanks to Damon Berryhill's first homer of the season. Todd Hundley had four RBIs, three on a home run, that helped the Mets avoid a sweep as they beat Houston, 10-4. Brett Saberhagen allowed only five hits in 8 innings. Ismael Valdez, the 21-year old Dodger phenom, gave up only five hits and went the distance in a 6-0 LA shutout of the Cubs, his first as a major leaguer. Andy Ashby got his first career shutout as he gave up only two hits to the Pirates in a 2-0 San Diego win.

Juan Guzman won his first game of the year as he went five innings and threw 99 pitches in a 7-2 Toronto triumph over Texas. "Black Jack" McDowell finally put two wins in a row together as the Yankees beat the Indians, 9-5, aided by a Paul O'Neill home run. Baltimore lost their seventh straight game as Juan Samuel drove in four runs in Detroit's 10-8 win over the Orioles that lifted Manager Sparky Anderson into third place on the all-time wins list with 2158. A dropped fly ball and a wild pitch led to three eighth inning runnings that lifted Oakland to a 3-1 win over Kansas City. Chad Krueter's shocking suicide squeeze on a 1-2 pitch scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Mariners beat the Twins, 2-1. Boston ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Brewers. And Caifornia swept the White Sox, 8-4, to give Chuck Finley his fifth win and move the Angels two games in front of the Rangers in the AL West.

Suffering from so many injuries, the Phillies traded pitcher Greg Harris to the Orioles for outfielder Andy Van Slyke. Chuck Knoblauch and the teen with whom he had an altercation - the contents of which are disputed - have had a meeting at the Twins team hotel and both apologized to one another. The Blue Jays became the first team to surpass the one million mark in attendance this year.

The Braves take their five-game winning streak to Cincinnati in a four-game series that may prove to be a preview of this year's NLCS. John Smoltz will face Pete Schourek in game one.
 

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June 19, 1995
Atlanta Braves 10 (W: Smoltz, 6-3)
Cincinnati Reds 0 (L: Schourek, 4-4)
29-20
2nd place
3 games behind

SMOLTZ GOES DISTANCE IN 10-0 ROUT AS MCGRIFF HOMERS TWICE


John Smoltz pitched his first shutout of the season and his second straight complete game tonight as the Atlanta Braves blanked the Cincinnati Reds, 10-0, in Riverfront Stadium behind two home runs by Fred McGriff and a pair of four-run innings as Smoltz surrendered only five hits. Pete Schourek took the loss for the Reds as he dropped to 4-4 on the season in a game many feel matched the two best teams in the National League. The Braves also benefited from three wild pitches by Brad Pennington, who surrendered four runs in 0.2 innings and let the game get out of reach of Cincinnati's ability to come back. And in a bizarre coincidence, the game came one year to the day after the Reds launched four home runs off Smoltz in one inning.

The Braves jumped on top in the second inning with three consecutive singles by David Justice, Javy Lopez, and Mike Kelly that scored Justice, but Schourek retired Mark Lemke and Smoltz to get out of the jam. Yet a leadoff home run to McGriff in the top of the fourth appeared to break Schourek's concentration, and singles to Justice and Kelly and a triple by Mark Lemke put the Braves ahead, 4-0, which extended to 5-0 when Marquis Grissom singled Lemke home. During this entire four inning stretch, Smoltz was perfect and didn't yield so much as a base runner. Showing the form that won him the NLCS MVP in 1992, Smoltz took a two-hitter into the seventh, and Pennington came on in relief of Schourek where he immediately found trouble.

Smoltz drew a walk to begin the inning and moved to second on Pennington's first wild pitch. Grissom then walked, and the Braves loaded the bases when Blauser reached on an error. Chipper Jones struck out, but a walk to McGriff with the bases loaded scored Smoltz to make it 6-0. Grissom raced home on the second wild pitch to make it 7-0, and a sacrifice fly to center by Justice scored Blauser to make it 8-0. Pennington's third wild pitch plated McGriff to make it 9-0, and Pennington got the hook. Atlanta added a run on McGriff's second bomb in the ninth, a solo shot off Tim Pugh, but the game was long over. Smoltz retired Eddie Taubensee on a ground out to end the game, and the Braves had their sixth win in a row. The win lifts Smoltz to a 7-10 career record against the Reds.

But Atlanta hasn't gained much ground on the first-place Phillies despite all their injuries because Philly continues to win. Newcomer Andy Van Slyke singled in his first at-bat, hit a key two-run homer, and made a spectacular shoestring catch in his Philly debut, leading Philadelphia to a 6-3 win over the Mets. Hideo Nomo won his fourth decision in a row with a 7-3 victory over the Cardinals as he beat St Louis ace Ken Hill. Florida topped Colorado, 7-2, in a matchup of the two most recent expansion teams as Jeff Conine homered to make a winner of Chris Hammond. The San Diego Padres moved above .500 for the first time since the very end of the 1992 season with a 5-3 win over the Cubs, carried there on the wings of a two-run homer by rookie pinch-hitter Roberto Petagine in the seventh. Denny Neagle won his seventh game of the season - his sixth following a Pirates loss - in Pittsburgh's 8-2 win over the Giants that featured two home runs by Steve Pegues. Darryl Kile scattered seven hits over six innings and struck out six as an Orlando Miller two-run single gave him the win over the Expos, 6-3, as Todd Jones got his third save.

Cleveland did it once again, walkoff win in the bottom of the tenth when youngster Manny Ramirez golfed a full count pitch from Ken Ryan into seats leading off the inning for a 4-3 Indians win over Boston to improve their league-leading record to 35-13. Ramirez, runner up to Kansas City's Bob Hamelin as last year's Rookie of the Year, is hitting .344 with 14 home runs after only 48 games. Tonight marks the 12th time Cleveland has won in their final at bat. Cal Ripken ended both his slump and Baltimore's seven-game losing streak with a single, two doubles, and a triple that drove in two RBIs in a 5-4 Oriole win over the Yankees. Ripken missed the cycle by only a home run and along with Brooks Robinson is the only Oriole to ever hit for the cycle. Kevin Gross survived three home runs that gave Detroit a 4-2 lead when the Rangers had a three-run inning that ended the Tigers's four-game winning streak and gave Gross his first win since May 17. A three-run inning with the key blow a two-run bomb by Frank Thomas lifted the Chicago White Sox to an 8-6 win over Seattle, snapping a four-game losing streak for the ChiSox. Chip Hale's bases loaded double with two outs in the tenth carried the visiting Twins to an 8-5 win over Oakland and Jim Corsi. The Royals only got eight hits, but they turned it into eight runs and with Kevin Appier on the mound, beat Shawn Boskie, 8-5, to make Appier the majors's first ten-game winner of 1995.

The Yankees won the Darryl Strawberry woo stakes and signed the former Met and Dodger to a major league contract. Strawberry's drug-related suspension ends June 25. The Angels released Rob Deer.

Braves highlights begin at the start of the video below:
 

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June 20, 1995
Atlanta Braves 10 (W: Maddux, 6-1)
Cincinnati Reds 2 (L: Nitkowski, 0-1)
30-20
2nd place
3 games behind

BRAVES WIN 7TH STRAIGHT IN 2ND ROUT OF REDS


The Atlanta Braves won their seventh straight game, and Greg Maddux extended his shutout streak to 15 innings in a 10-2 triumph over the Reds in Cincinnati tonight that saw rookie Chipper Jones go 4-for-6 and drive home three runs while scoring another. Every Atlanta position player except Fred McGriff had at least one hit as the Braves pounded out 18 hits against C.J. Nitkowski and three Reds relievers. Maddux lowered his ERA on the season to 1.77 but left the game after six innings when a ground shot by Eric Anthony deflected off his back in the fifth. The Atlanta starting five has now surrendered only 3 runs in their last 51 innings as the summer weather gets hotter.

The Braves batted around in the top of the first and chased four runs across the plate. After Marquis Grissom struck out to lead off the game, Jeff Blauser singled and then Chipper Jones launched a two-run home run to give the Braves the lead in a game where they were never threatened. David Justice then singled to right, stole second, and scored on a Charlie O'Brien double to make it 3-0 Atlanta. A single past shortstop by Mike Kelly plated O'Brien to make it 4-0, but Nitkowski retired Maddux with two runners on base to end the big inning. Maddux gave up two singles to Ron Gant and Reggie Sanders in the first but yielded nothing more as he retired the side.

Atlanta extended their lead to 6-0 in the fourth when Grissom singled, Blauser walked, and Nitkowski balked both runners ahead one base. Although Chipper struck out, McGriff popped out to center to score Grissom, and Justice singled Blauser home. A walk to Lemke, a bunt by Maddux, and two singles by Grissom and Blauser gave the Braves a 7-0 lead at the halfway point. With Maddux on the mound, the game was over, but Maddux wasn't there much longer after Anthony singled off his back leading off the fifth. Maddux continued through the sixth but as he led off the seventh, Manager Bobby Cox pulled the ace and replaced him with middle reliever Greg McMichael so the bullpen could get some work. Jeff Branson doubled with one out and a misplay by Grissom in center allowed him to go to third. Cal Worthington walked, but when Worthington was forced at second by Lenny Harris, Branson crossed the plate with an unearned run to make it 7-1. Then McMichael found trouble in the bottom of the eighth.

Gant off with a single and Eddie Taubensee's double put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Mike Stanton replaced McMichael and retired the two batters he faced although a sacrifice fly to center by Anthony scored Gant to narrow the gap to 7-2. But the Reds got no closer as three singles, two walks, and a Taubensee error pushed three runs across the plate to end the game at 10-2 in favor of the Braves. Maddux won his sixth game against one loss as the Braves moved ten games over .500 for the first time this year.

The Cardinals moved Brian Jordan to the leadoff spot and he drove in four runs as rookie Mark Petkovsek extended his shutout streak to 17 innings and got his first career shutout in a 7-0 win over the Dodgers that ended LA's three-game winning streak. Petkovsek allowed eight hits and struck out three as he pitched the first complete game of the year for the Cardinals. Tyler Green pitched his fourth complete game of the year as the Phillies pounded four Mets pitchers for 12 hits in an 8-2 win, Philly's fourth in a row. The Phils are now 33-17 with the best record in the NL, and Green leads the league in shutouts (with two). The Pirates have been outscored 24-8 this year, but they scored two runs in the first on a Don Slaught double and never trailed, though it took a Mark Johnson homer to break a late tie in Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over the Giants. Esteban Loaiza lifted his record to 3-3 while Bob Miceli got his eighth save for the Bucs. The Expos may be fading, too. Houston tore out of the gate with a quick 5-0 lead that chased Pedro Martinez after the Astros batted round and he only got two outs. Jeff Bagwell hit his 100th career home run and Shane Reynolds went six innings and gave up only two runs in a 7-4 Houston win in Montreal. Sammy Sosa went 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs and hit his 13th homer as the Cubs topped the Padres, 7-2, to end Chicago's three-game skid. Andre Dawson hit a three-run bomb, and although Bobby Witt left in the second with tightness in his shoulder, Terry Matthews pitched 4.2 innings and had two hits and two RBIs in Florida's 7-2 win over the Rockies.

The Big Unit did it again against the ChiSox, striking out 10 in seven innings and lifting his own career record against Chicago to 10-2 as the Mariners won, 9-5. Although he gave up a first inning dinger to Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson pitched into and out of trouble and struck out at least 10 batters for the 56th time in his career. A four-run Seattle eighth turned a close game into a rout, and Johnson didn't go back out for the final two innings at the discretion of Manager Lou Piniella. Jeffrey Hammonds had a career high four RBIs as the Orioles rallied from a five-run deficit to stun the Yankees, 8-7, in Baltimore's largest comeback of the season. Chris Hoiles and Jeff Manto homered to jump start the comeback. The Texas Rangers went 31 innigns without an extra-base hit and 62 without a home run until Pudge Rodriguez homered in the second. Later, Rusty Greer and Juan Gonzalez homered on consecutive pitches to blow open a game that Darren Oliver and the Rangers won, 8-6, over Detroit. Rookie Chad Ogea lifted his record to 3-0 as he allowed only one run and five hits in eight innings while Kenny Lofton drove in four runs in a 9-2 Cleveland rout of Vaughan Eshelman and Boston. The Tribe have won 14 of their last 17 games. Scott Brosius homered on the first pitch of the game by Pat Mahomes, singled in another run in the second, and hit a solo homer in the fifth to lead Oakland to a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. Rookie Sid Roberson scattered three runs and seven hits in seven innings while Darryl Hamilton drove home the go-ahead run with a fifth-inning double as Milwaukee beat Toronto, 5-3. Brian Anderson returned to California's starting rotation by going 6.1 innings and allowing just one run on three hits while Garrett Anderson gunned down Pat Borders at home and made a spectacular catch that enabled Lee Smith to break his own record for most consecutive saves (18) in the Angels's 3-2 win over Kansas City and Mark Gubicza.

Asked about the soon to be implemented plan to speed up games, NL MVP Jeff Bagwell said, "Why ar we screwing around with speeding up games? How about getting a collective bargaining agreement? I think that's a whole lot more important." Shawon Dunston has dropped his appeal of his suspension for his role in a fight he instigated on June 11 and will serve it the next two games. The Cubs put Steve Buechele on the 15-day disabled list while the Giants did the same with pitching ace Trevor Wilson. Kenny Greer was called up from Triple-A to replace Wilson. Ozzie Smith leads the All-Star balloting for the All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas on July 11.

Jose Canseco blasted Pawtucket Red Sox fans, claiming they attacked his truck with baseball bats after he refused to sign autographs during his two-day rehab trip on the way back to the majors. Canseco further said he would not participate in any Red Sox gatherings in Pawtucket henceforth. Bob Taylor, who has sung the national anthem at the last 25 Detroit Tigers Opening Day games died of a stroke yesterday at age 64.

Braves highlights are at the beginning of the video below (a lot of Maddux pitching highlights):

 

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June 21, 1995
Cincinnati Reds 3 (W: Smiley, 6-1; SV: Brantley, 10)
Atlanta Braves 1 (L: Glavine, 5-4)
30-21
2nd place
4 games behind

SMILEY TOPS GLAVINE IN PITCHER'S DUEL; METS WANT OUT OF SHEA;
TIGERS BEAT RANGERS IN 2-HOUR GAME;
NHL APPROVES RELOCATION OF NORDIQUES TO DENVER


Tom Glavine entered tonight's game at Riverfront Stadium with a sensational 12-0 record in 13 career starts at the venue, and he surrendered but four hits in seven innings this time. But capitalizing on "small ball" and the even better pitching of Reds starter John Smiley, who gave up but a solitary single to Jeff Blauser in his seven innings, the Reds beat Glavine and the Braves, 3-1, to drop the union rep to 5-4 on the season and drop the Braves to four games behind first-place Philadelphia, who won their fifth in a row with a 6-2 triumph over the Mets based largely on two homers from Tom Marsh. Smiley won his sixth game in seven decisions on the year. The 0-for-4 batting of Marquis Grissom ends his hitting streak at 14 games.

Glavine's typical bumbling start in the first inning occurred once again, but he got out of the jam by surrendering only one run. He hit Jerome Walton, the game's leadoff batter, who then stole second, and then moved to both third and home on infield ground outs to give the Reds a quick 1-0 lead. The game remained that way with each starter pitching well until Ron Gant led off the sixth with a double and then scored on two sacrifice flies. An inning later, Damon Berryhill singled, moved to second on a Cal Worthington single to right and then advanced to third base on a David Justice error. Berryhill scored when Walton hit a sacrifice fly to center that gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. Atlanta's only run came in the ninth and again showed the fallacy of saves statistics given Jeff Brantley only came close to the Braves tying the game because he surrendered the home run to McGriff. Brantley entered the game with a 3-0 lead and saved a 3-1 game where he gave up the bomb and got no closer to danger than the on deck hitter. The Reds are two games better than Atlanta in the overall standings and lead the NL Central by 5.5 over Houston.

It was a night of pitcher's duels in several baseball locales. Steve Finley was the superstar in San Diego's 1-0 home win over the Cubs. He scored the game's only run when he raced all the way around from second during a rundown of Ken Caminiti between first and second on a pickoff play that went so badly Caminiti returned to first safely, too. In the ninth, Finley made an over-the-wall catch (see 8:03) below) to rob Rich Wilkins of a game-tying home run, which meant five-loss Andy Benes beat five-loss Steve Trachsel. With the Pirates on the verge of a sweep in a 4-4 tie and with a Giants runner at third, Robby Thompson laid down a suicide squeeze and wound up on second base with a double as the run scored to push the Giants into the lead. Thompson later scored what proved to be the winning run as the Giants prevailed, 6-5. Four Montreal errors led to the two runs that proved to be the difference in Houston's 5-3 win over the Expos as Greg Swindell outdueled Butch Henry. A seven-run second inning chased Cardinals starter Vicente Palacios, largely because of Delino DeShields's grand slam, and Tom Candiotti gave up only 3 hits in seven innings while striking out seven as the Dodgers cruised in St Louis, 10-1. Mike Piazza drilled his ninth home run and Dave Hansen his first. The Rockies sat Andres Galarraga, who has been slumping, and his replacement John Vander Wal went 2-for-3 and scored a run as the Rockies beat the Marlins, 6-3, in Florida.

There was another stirring pitcher's duel in Detroit as the Tigers and Rangers picked the longest day of the year to play the second shortest nine-inning game of the 1995 season. Lou Whitaker homered in the first - and that was all - as the Tigers beat the Rangers, 1-0, in a battle between Detroit's Felipe Lira and the Rangers's Bob Tewksbury. The game was completed in exactly two hours. This year's shortest game was the June 14 contest between the Padres and Cardinals that was played in 1:59. A Carlos Baerga baserunning blunder helped lift Boston to a 3-1 win over Cleveland at Jacobs Field, their first win at the new ballpark. Mike Greenwell and Mo Vaughan homered to provide the offense. But Cleveland has rallied many times this year and after falling behind, 3-0, the Tribe got a run back and Baerga reached on an error. Albert Belle then launched a fly ball to deep centerfield that Baerga erroneously assumed was a home run, so he began trotting around the basepaths. But Lee Tinsley caught the ball short of the wall and gunned it back to the infield where the infielders tossed it to Mo Vaughan, who doubled Baerga off first. The league's leading hitter was approaching third base when he realized the game was not about to be tied. Erik Hanson gave up only four hits through eight innings, and Stan Belinda earned his third save in the ninth. Rookie Andy Pettite went six strong innings and solo dingers by Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams were enough to beat Ben McDonald and the Orioles, 2-1. A misplay by Tim Raines in his attempt at a sensational catch and his subsequent inability to locate the rolling ball gave Seattle's Mike Neufield and inside-the-park home run in a game that saw Robin Ventura and Manager Terry Bevington ejected for arguing the strike zone. John Kruk's sacrifice fly to left in the tenth scored Raines to lead the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Mariners. A ninth inning single by Rich Becker lifted Minnesota to a 3-2 win in Oakland. Home runs by Gary Gaetti and Jon Nunnally lifted the Royals to a 6-3 win over Mike Bielecki and the Angels. The Angels also got word that Chili Davis is on the 15-day DL due to a strained hamstring suffered while running out a ground ball in last night's game. And down to their last out in the ninth, Jose Valentin's grand slam lifted Milwaukee to a 10-9 win over Toronto at SkyDome.

Darryl Strawberry reports to the Yankees' minor league affiliate in Tampa to begin his rehab after a 60-day drug suspension. The Astros acquired Derrick May from the Brewers for a player to be named later. Fans in Pawtucket are saying Jose Canseco is full of a certain substance found in barnyards after he claimed his truck was attacked when he struck out five times and didn't sign autographs at the minor league affiliate yesterday. Eddie Murray is only nine hits away from 3,000 after a single in tonight's loss to Boston. Detroit is shopping around pitchers David Wells, Mike Moore, and Mike Henneman. The Yankees have expressed interest in Wells, but Detroit's request of rookie Andy Pettite in exchange for Wells has basically resulted in New York telling the Tigers to go jump in one of the Great Lakes. Roberto Alomar's hitting streak is now at 13 while Pittsburgh's Carlos Garcia's is at 16. The Marlins signed former Cub Doug Dascenzo to a minor-league contract. Jose Rijo will return from the DL and start Sunday against the Marlins. The Rockies are averaging seven runners left on base per game - this from the team that leads the NL in runs scored. If they can lower that total, look out. Dave Hollins, sidelined by diabetes, will return to the Philly lineup tomorrow.

The Mets want out of Shea Stadium, and who can blame them? David Howard, the team's VP of Business Affairs, said they wanted to be throwing out the first pitch at a new stadium on Long Island by the opener in 2000. The owners are not happy with the rapidly deteriorating neighborhood surrounding Shea, and the collapse of a promised monorail connecting Manhattan with LaGuardia is another major contributing factor.

In other sports news, the NHL approved the sale of the Quebec Nordiques to a group that will relocate the franchise to Denver, Colorado and pay $75 million purchase price. The league vote was unanimous save for the Montreal Canadiens, who wisely abstained from this political loser. Ironically, the last franchise relocation from one city to another in the NHL was in 1982 when Denver lost the hockey Colorado Rockies to New Jersey. Also ironically, the New Jersey Devils as they are now called are up 2-0 over Detroit in their quest for their first Stanley Cup. The team will no longer be called Nordiques as a fan vote will be held. It is believed the team will be named one of the following: Black Bears, Cougars, Outlaws, or Big Horns.

Braves highlights are at the start of the video below:

 

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June 22, 1995
Cincinnati Reds 9 (W: Hernandez, 5-0; SV: Brantley, 11)
Atlanta Braves 8 (L: Borbon, 0-1)
30-22
2nd place
5 games behind

5-RUN EIGHTH GIVES REDS SERIES SPLIT WITH ATLANTA; BASEBALL NETWORK GONE;
MANTLE'S BODY IS REJECTING NEW LIVER


It was bombs away this afternoon at Riverfront Stadium was the Reds and Braves combined for seven long balls, 17 runs, 22 hits, and a Cincy comeback from an 8-4 deficit in the bottom of the eighth that salvaged a series split for the Reds after they lost the first two contests. The comeback featured not one but two pinch-hit homers as the Reds drilled the questionable Atlanta bullpen to leave the Braves five games behind the first place Phillies just a little over 1/3 of the way through the 1995 strike shortened season. Steve Avery went 6.1 innings and left with a 7-4 lead, but Greg McMichael and designated closer Mark Wohlers collapsed like folding chairs and Pedro Borbon lost the game when he gave up a two-run shot to the first batter he faced, Eddie Taubensee, that completed the Cincinnati comeback.

It didn't look so good for the Reds at the start. Well, almost from the start. Leadoff batter Jerome Walton homered, but Avery navigated two singles after retiring Barry Larkin by picking Ron Gant off first and getting Brett Boone to pop to second to end the threat. On June 13, 1993, John Roper made his major league debut against Avery at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and got chased early. It happened again, although this time he had a 1-0 lead. David Justice homered, Ryan Klesko singled, and Charlie O'Brien homered and just like that the Braves held a 3-1 lead. In the third, Jeff Blauser walked and Chipper Jones hit a ball off the yellow line at the top of the wall in Riverfront Stadium - which by rule is a home run. The initial ruling of double was protested by the Braves and then the ruling of home run was protested by Cincinnati Manager Davey Johnson, but the Braves led, 5-1. Back-to-back doubles by Boone and Mark Lewis cut the Atlanta lead to 5-2, but Ryan Klesko's double scored McGriff and Justice to make it 7-2 after five. In the sixth, Gant singled and Reggie Sanders homered to cut the deficit to 7-4. When Thomas Howard doubled with one out in the seventh, Avery was pulled in favor of Greg McMichael, who got the Braves out of the inning without further damage. An inning later, though, McMichael and the Braves weren't so fortunate. A single by Belliard and double by Grissom in the top of the eighth made it 8-4, Atlanta, but that's when the real fireworks began.

Reggie Sanders was on first base with two outs, the Braves a mere four outs from winning the series, when Sanders stole second. Mark Lewis walked, so Atlanta skipper Bobby Cox went with his most recent try at a relief ace, Mark Wohlers, in a save situation with the tying run in the on deck circle. Wohlers served up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Eric Anthony that cut the lead to just one run and then gave up a double to his former teammate, the slow-footed catcher Damon Berryhill. Cox pulled Wohlers and brought out Borbon, who gave up the game-losing home run to Taubensee, the first batter he faced. For the record, four Atlanta pitchers made appearances in this game - and three gave up home runs to the first batter they saw. The heart of Atlanta's order came up in the ninth, but the only baserunner was Justice, who walked. Dwight Smith grounded out to second to end the game, and the Reds won, 9-8.

Sammy Sosa took over the NL lead in RBIs after driving in five runs in Chicago's 13-2 thumping of the Astros. Doug Drabek is winless in six starts at the Astrodome this season and has an ERA of 7.26 at home. The Astrodome is the best pitcher's park in baseball, but Drabek doesn't seem up to the challenge. The Phillies banged out 19 hits to complete a four-game sweep of the Mets with an 8-2 win in New York against rookie Bill Pulsipher. Mariano Duncan had four of the Philly hits. Armando Reynoso and five relievers scattered six hits as the Rockies edged the Padres, 3-2. Eric Karros homered twice and Mike Piazza and Tim Wallach also went deep as the Dodgers trimmed the Giants, 7-6. Barry Bonds also hit his 11th homer of the year in the loss.

Roger Clemens had his longest outing of the season with 6.2 innings of six-hit ball while throwing 106 pitches on his recently repaired shoulder as the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 4-1. It was a costly loss for Baltimore as ace Kevin Brown attempted to field a line shot barehanded and is now on the 15-day disabled list for his stupidity. He joins Ben McDonald on the DL, meaning the O's will be without their two best pitchers for at least the next two weeks. Milwaukee clobbered Toronto, 9-0, to complete a three-game sweep behind rookie Steve Sparks. Dan Wilson's first homer of the year lifted Salomon Torres to his first-ever AL win as Seattle beat the White Sox, 3-2.

The Baseball Network, a joint venture created to soften the blow of losing a ton of money thanks to the horrible MLB contract with CBS from 1990 to 1993 has pulled the plug. Well, sort of. They will still ensure that we get a World Series this fall (uh, if there is one since there's still no labor agreement) that airs on both ABC and NBC. When CBS washed their hands of the billion dollars they threw at MLB for four years of coverage, the old reliable networks of the 70s and 80s agreed to show national games six times over the last half of the baseball season in an effort to kindle interest in the sport. Of course, last year's strike prevented that - just as it enabled the groups to tell MLB that since Bud Selig won't say anything, they're gone. This is just the latest financial blow to the owners, who have lost over $1 billion since the strike began last August 12. It is believed that CBS (don't make me laugh) or the up-and-coming Fox Sports will take over the TV rights for the game. There is also discussion with the expanded playoffs of showing only regional coverage of some playoff games, which isn't going to set well with fans of teams in areas they cannot see the games. You'd think baseball would learn from all this constant money flushing, but you'd be wrong. Bud Selig picked three new negotiators for the owners. Bear in mind that no talks have been held since Judge Sonia Sotomayor found the owners were bargaining in bad faith and ended the strike on March 30. And after all these years to think about it, the owners still have no idea what they want. Some want a luxury tax, some want a salary cap, and some just want to extend the old agreement that ended in 1993 through the 1996 season. (These same guys probably only want to do this to lock the players out before 1997, which is why players likely won't agree to this last one).

And then there is the sad saga surrounding one of the game's greatest players - and I don't mean Pete Rose. I mean the guy who named Pete Rose "Charlie Hustle."

Mickey Mantle recently received a liver transplant, and his body is currently demonstrating "light rejection." This is not a surprising development since 2/3 of liver transplant recipients experience varying degrees of rejection. Mantle is experiencing decreased liver function and receiving both chemotherapy and high doses of steroids. Fewer than one percent of those experiencing rejection need a second liver transplant, and Mantle is reported to be in good spirits at Baylor Hospital in the heart of Dallas.

In other news, poor Mel Rojas lost his salary arbitration hearing with the Expos and thus will make "only" $1.3 million this year instead of $2.1 million. There goes his chance of Super Sizing every value meal. Darryl Strawberry has begun his comeback in Tampa. The Seattle Mariners reactivated Jay Buhner from the disabled list and optioned Greg Pirki for assignment. The Red Sox sent Mark Whiten and his lousy .185 batting average to Pawtucket in hopes his truck isn't attacked by the mystery bats that supposedly hit Jose Canseco's. The St Louis Cardinals released Manuel Lee, a player probably best-known as a key contributor to Toronto's epic collapse in the final week of the 1987 AL East pennant race with Detroit. And at least seven fans at SkyDome were injured when two 30-pound pieces of the ceiling fell some 50 feet and landed on fans seated in the fifth deck.

The Braves head home for a six-game homestand against the Mets and Expos before they hit the road for their biggest series of the season against the Phillies and then return home for a series that starts July 4 against the Dodgers. Former two-time Cy Young winner Brett Saberhagen faces off with Kent Mercker in the opener.

Braves highlights are at the beginning of the video:

 

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June 23, 1995
New York Mets 9 (W: Saberhagen, 4-2)
Atlanta Braves 3 (L: Mercker, 4-4)
30-23
2nd place
5 games behind


SABERHAGEN GOES DISTANCE IN 9-3 METS TRIUMPH

For six innings tonight, Kent Mercker matched two-time Cy Young winner (and World Series MVP) Brett Saberhagen pitch-for-pitch as the Braves and Mets battled to a 2-2 standstill. But whether it was fear of his erratic bullpen, confidence in Mercker to keep going, or a bad combination of both, Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox left his starter in one inning too long, and the Mets made him and the Braves pay with a five-run seventh inning that dropped the Braves to their third loss in a row while simultaneously ending a four-game losing streak by New York. As if losing the game wasn't bad enough, the Braves were done in by a shortstop who entered the game batting .184 but hit .500 against Atlanta's pitchers, with four RBIs and a three-run kill shot that chased Mercker in the seventh inning and put the Mets on their road to victory.

The Mets jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Rico Brogna homered with two outs in the first, but Jeff Blauser homered with one out in the bottom of the inning to tie the score. The Braves then took the lead on another solo shot, this one by Javy Lopez, in the third. But the Mets tied it in the fifth when Chris Jones singled, moved to second on a hit, and scored on a single by Tim Bogar, the Mets' light-hitting shortstop. With Saberhagen hitting his stride after a couple of bad pitches while Mercker continued to hit his spots, the game remained tied until the Mets had one out in the seventh. That's when Mercker fell apart.

Jones singled and Todd Hundley walked to bring up Bogar, who was hitting just in front of the pitcher's spot. Anything else, and the Mets probably would have pinch-hit for Saberhagen in this situation. Instead, they watched Bogar golf a 2-0 Mercker delivery into the seats for a three-run home run, only the sixth round-tripper of Bogar's career, and Saberhagen went up to bat with a 3-run lead. Steve Bedrosian - also a former Cy Young winner - came on and got the former outfielder to fly out to center, and it appeared the Braves were still within sight of the Met lead. But Ryan Thompson singled to right and stole second, coming home on an Edgar Alfonzo double, and Alfonzo himself scored the Mets' fifth run of the inning when Brogna singled him home to give the Mets a 7-2 lead. Both teams scored cosmetic runs in the ninth, and Saberhagen left with a 9-3 win that lifts his record to 4-2 on the year while Mercker fell to 4-4. As it turned out, this was not the only headline Saberhagen made on the night.

Kevin Appier, the ace of the Kansas City Royals, broke Saberhagen's franchise record by winning his 11th decision in just 51 games on the season with a three-hit 4-0 shutout over the Twins courtesy of a two-run shot by former Twin Gary Gaetti. The previous record of 11 wins in 57 games was held by Saberhagen, who set it in 1987. It should be noted that Saberhagen did not win the Cy Young that year for what it means concerning Appier (which is nothing). It should further be noted that small market Kansas City actually has a record one game better than the Braves overall, a fact nobody would have believed in spring training. It is KC's tenth win in 13 games while the Twins are 11-38 in their last 49, a full 21 games behind Cleveland, who has the best record in all of baseball. The Tribe had a bit of an off-night, though, taking a 1-0 lead against the White Sox into the bottom of the fifth and giving up no less than 12 runs before the game reached the seventh inning stretch, a 5-run inning in the fifth and a seven-run runs fest in the sixth. Chicago banged out 20 hits - but only one homer as Frank Thomas again went deep for his 16th bomb. Cleveland rallied to make the score slightly more respectable, but Charles Nagy fell to 4-6 in the 12-5 loss. Jim Edmonds extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a first-inning home run as California tattooed Tim Belcher and the Mariners, 14-4, to give Mark Langston his sixth win of the year. David Wells lifted his home record to 5-0 and came within one out of a complete game as the Tigers beat the Brewers, 5-2, behind four home runs. Mike Mussina outdueled Zane Smith and the O's benefited from two Boston errors that helped Baltimoire beat the Red Sox, 7-5, at Camden Yards with the help of Brady Anderson's eighth home run of the year. The last two American League Cy Young winners squared off in a light drizzle at Yankee Stadium, and it was the 1993 winner (Jack McDowell) outdueling an unusually wild 1994 winner (David Cone) in a 6-2 New York win. Cone walked six batters and gave up six hits and four runs in six innings of work. Kenny Rogers only lasted five innings in his shortest outing of the year, but Will Clark's two-run single was the key in a four-run fourth that saw Texas beat Oakland and Dave Stewart, 7-4.

In the NL, young Denny Neagle had the best game of his brief career as he tossed a two-hitter and beat the Expos, 2-0, to become the National League's first eight-game winner and potentially Pittsburgh's only member of the All-Star game this year. Pedro Martinez pitched well, but he was saddled with yet another loss because he got no run support although he struck out seven batters in eight innings. Not satisfied with their six-run second, the Florida Marlins had a seven-run inning in the sixth as they clobbered the Reds, 16-4, in Cincinnati and set a Marlins record for runs scored in a game. John Burkett lifted his record to 5-6 while Terry Pendleton, Andre Dawson, and Charles Johnson all went deep for Florida. Mike Morgan scattered nine hits and came within two outs of his 11th career shutout in the Cardinals' 7-1 win over the Phillies that ended Philadelphia's six-game winning streak. Morgan outdueled Curt Schilling, who dropped to 5-2 on the season. Andres Galarraga hit his ninth homer of the season, but the Rockies game up short against San Diego, 3-2, as Trevor Hoffman got his tenth save. A five-run inning lifted Ismael Valdez to his fifth win in the Dodgers's 7-2 win against their arch rival Giants at Chavez Ravine. Derek Bell's RBI single in the 12th lifted Houston to a 3-2 win over the Cubs and ended the Astros seven-game losing streak.

The Astros placed closer John Hudek on the 15-day DL with a sore elbow. Dodger outfielder Todd Hollandsworth was placed on the 15-day DL after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand that has kept him out of the lineup since May 9. Jeff Fassero, asking for a seven-fold raise, is the last arbitration case of the year, and it will be heard within the next week. Fifteen of Mark McGwire's 19 home runs have come on the road. If Big Mac could play in a more hitting friendly stadium rather than Oakland - where foul balls go to die - he could conceivably challenge the single-season record of Roger Maris. If he could somehow get to Colorado, McGwire might hit 70 homers in a season. John Roper was optioned back to Triple-A to make room for the returning Jose Rijo. Orel Hershiser was put on the 15-day DL with lower back pain. Darryl Strawberry begins his comeback tomorrow. The Braves face the Mets again with John Smoltz starting for Atlanta against Dave Mlicki.
 

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June 24, 1995
Atlanta Braves 5 (W: Smoltz, 7-3; SV: Wohlers, 3)
New York Mets 4 (L: Mlicki, 4-4)
31-23
2nd place
5 games behind

COX EJECTED BUT JUSTICE PREVAILS; UNIT KS 15 WHILE NOMO FANS 13


Years from now a simple look at the box score of tonight's contest between the Braves and Mets will show that Atlanta starter John Smoltz won the game, 5-4, and new closer experiment Mark Wohlers got his third save of the season. What the box score will not show is that Wohlers damn near blew another save but was bailed out by the rifle arm of David Justice and the plate blocking ability of Javy Lopez. With the tying run headed towards home plate, Justice heaved a strike on a short single to right by Edgar Alfonzo on a perfect line to Lopez, who tagged out Jose Vizcaino trying to score from second with not another step to spare and preserved a 5-4 Braves win that ended Atlanta's three-game losing streak and made Smoltz a winner for the seventh time in ten decisions. It also spoiled what would have been a truly phenomenal comeback by the Mets, who fell into a 5-0 hole in the third but clawed their way back into the game only to come up a foot short if you will.

The early play was a tad sloppy with walks and errors, but nobody scored until the bottom of the third. That's when Smoltz helped his own cause by drawing a walk off Mets starter Dave Mlicki and then moved to second on a single by leadoff batter Marquis Grissom. Jeff Blauser bunted both runners over to bring up Chipper Jones with two runners in scoring position and one out. Jones hit into what appeared to be a run-scoring double play, but Vizcaino missed second baseman Jeff Kent's toss, and it went into left field, scoring both Smoltz and Grissom for a 2-0 Atlanta lead that had runners at first and second. Fred McGriff then grounded into a double play for two outs that left Blauser at second, but a double by Justice and a Ryan Klesko moon shot gave the Braves a 5-0 lead despite the fact that only the run by Smoltz was earned. It stayed that way until the sixth when three straight singles scored Joe Orsulak and Todd Hundley smashed a three-run homer that just like that narrowed the gap to 5-4. Braves Manager Bobby Cox yanked Smoltz and sent out Greg McMichael to retire Vizcaino, a questionable decision because Smoltz was batting third in the next half inning. Lopez struck out to lead off the inning, but Mark Lemke was called out on a bang-bang play at first, and Cox had apparently seen enough, racing to argue with and getting tossed from the game by umpire Mike Winters. It was the 55th ejection of Cox's managerial career. McMichael then batted for only the ninth time in his big league career - and of course he struck out. But McMichael also pitched well, striking out three of the seven hitters he faced and only allowing one baserunner, who was retired attempting to advance to second. Wohlers, still trying to become the Braves closer, came on for the finisher, and he got the first two hitters out. Vizcaino then reached base on an infield hit that was subsequently thrown away by Blauser, putting Vizcaino in scoring position. That's when Justice made his game-saving heave, which bailed out the Braves and kept them five games behind Philly in the NL East.

The shortest game of the season was played today as well - and damned if it wasn't that walking late-game rally the Colorado Rockies who were victimized. Joey Hamilton recorded 14 ground ball outs and allowed just four hits in San Diego's 2-0 win over Colorado. And who exactly had pitched the previous shortest game of the year? Why none other than Hamilton, whose two-hitter on June 14 against St Louis was the previous fastest game. Bip Roberts made an over-the-wall grab of a Larry Walker home run that would have tied the score at one. The win leaves San Diego just 1/2 game behind both Colorado and Los Angeles. The Dodgers beat the Giants, 7-0, as Hideo Nomo went the distance and struck out 13 hitters, including Barry "0-for-4" Bonds twice for his fifth win. Nomo leads the NL in strikeouts with 96, well ahead of second-place John Smoltz, who has 79. Barry Larkin and Ron Gant slugged back-to-back homers off Florida starter Chris Hammond, and the Marlins turned their 16 run barrage yesterday back to their normal output in a 5-2 loss at Cincinnati. Darryl Kile's two throwing errors undid his otherwise good night pitching as Houston lost to the Cubs, 5-2. The Astros, somewhat shockingly, are only 8-17 at home this season. Rookie Carlos Perez tossed a six-hitter, drove in two runs, and pitched Montreal's first complete game of the season in a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh. Philadelphia built a 9-1 lead after 4 1/2 innings and then watched the Cardinals scratch and claw back into the game only to fall short, 10-9, as Paul Quantrill won his seventh game while Heathcliff Slocumb saved his 18th.

Randy Johnson and Chuck Finley engaged in a classic pitcher's duel, and it turned out the way it usually does when an 8-1 strikeout ace (Johnson) faces a 5-6 control pitcher (Finley). Johnson struck out 15 Angels while Finley built a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth and struck out five. But Finley made one bad pitch, and it was enough to cost him the game as Edgar Martinez drilled a three-run shot for all the runs Seattle would need to top California, 3-2. Both pitchers went the distance, Johnson prevailing narrowly. Baltimore and Boston took a 4-4 game into the ninth inning when the rains suddenly fell after Jose Canseco walked to start the ninth and a 51-minute rain delay ensued. The Orioles returned to a completely different field and caught Canseco in a rundown. The field, though, had nothing to do with the bad pursuit, which wound up with Canseco going to second when the Baltimore fielders left the base uncovered during the rundown. Cal Ripken then dropped a pop up by Mike Greenwell, to put two runners on base. Canseco moved to third on a Tim Naehring fly out and Jeff Manto then threw Troy O'Leary's slow roller to third past home, allowing Canseco to score the go-ahead run. Greenwell later scored and Boston prevailed, 6-5. Three Indians errors - including two on back-to-back dropped/misplayed balls by Albert Belle - led the Indians to their first three-game losing streak of the year as Chicago dropped them, 8-3. Eddie Murray got a single, leaving him eight hits short of the magical 3,000. Wade Boggs hit a bases loaded double, and the Yankees have their first three-game winning streak since early May with a 10-2 rout of Toronto. Milwaukee intentionally walked Cecil Fielder to face Juan Samuel, and the veteran made them pay when he smashed a three-run home run that was the key to Detroit's 7-2 win over the Brewers. Mickey Tettleton broke out of a 1-for-26 slump with four RBIs that were the key to Texas beating Oakland, 6-5. Chip Hale's two-run pinch single in the eighth lifted Minnesota over Kansas City, 6-5.

The Royals paid tribute to their lone world championship team as members of the 1985 World Series champions gathered for a commemoration that included the recently retired George Brett. Conspicuously absent from the celebration was Umpire Don Denkinger, who was in the Bronx working the New York-Toronto clash. Who was there, though? Umpire Tim McClelland, the guy who ejected Brett from the infamous Pine Tar Game in 1983. Jeff Fassero lost his arbitration case and instead of the $2.45 million he wanted this year, he will have to settle for "only" $1.5 million. Bear in mind that's still five times what he made last year. As if to help the case, Montreal signed former Cardinal pitcher Joe Magrane today while Pittsburgh released Sam Horn.

Braves highlights begin at 6:10 below:
 

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June 25, 1995
Atlanta Braves 4 (W: Maddux, 7-1; SV: Wohlers,4)
New York Mets 2 (L: Harnisch, 1-5)
32-23
2nd place
5 games behind

MADDUX HAS AN OFF GAME - BUT WINS; ASTROS SET FRANCHISE RECORD WITH 19 RUNS


The New York Mets tore into Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves in the top of the first for two runs on four hits, part of a ten-hit barrage in just six innings - and still lost, largely because they couldn't add to their two-run strike early. Maddux pitched well below par (by his high standards) both before and after a rain delay as he won his fifth straight decision and lifted his career record to 18-10 against the Mets, the most he has against any team. He also extended his streak to 32 straight innings without walking a batter while lowering his ERA to a league-best 1.85.

Four first inning singles scattered around two outs plated two Mets runs in the top of the first, but Pete Harnisch is having a bad year, and a leadoff single by Marquis Grissom followed by a steal of second, a walk to Jeff Blauser, and a single by Chipper Jones cut the deficit to 2-1, and Braves managed to load the bases but get no more runs. Three singles in the fourth - started by Rafael Belliard of all people - plated Belliard and tied the game at two. An inning later, back-to-back doubles by David Justice and Ryan Klesko gave the Braves their first lead of the contest. And in the seventh, the Braves put it away with a single run, which is all they got despite loading the bases with nobody out and Charlie O'Brien at the plate. Mark Wohlers came on in the ninth and got his fourth save, the only blemish a walk to Rico Brogna with two outs in the ninth. The Atlanta pen allowed four baserunners in the final three innings but pitched around trouble.

Andres Galarraga was on deck with a chance to do something no major leaguer had ever done: slam home runs in four consecutive innings. He hit three, of course, but outs by Larry Walker and Dante Bichette in the ninth prevented The Big Cat from getting his chance. The last major leaguer to hit homers in three straight innings prior to Galarraga was Larry Parrish in 1978. Galarraga had been in a 10-game slump with a .154 average. The Rockies won, 11-3, at San Diego as they banged out 14 hits on the road. Tom Candiotti got his fourth win as the Dodgers edged the Giants, 3-2, as Raoul Mondesi hit his 12th home run. Houston set a franchise record and got the most runs of any team in the 1995 season as they routed the Cubs, 19-6. Bear in mind the Astros were trailing, 2-0, entering the bottom of the fourth when they erupted like Mount Vesuvius, the key being a nine-run eighth inning and five RBIs from Jeff Bagwell on the game. Tyler Green came within one out of his third shutout and Charlie Hayes smashed a three-run home run as the Phillies beat the Cards, 5-3. Esteban Loaiza and two relivers combined for a six-hitter to beat Montreal and new millionaire ace Jeff Fassero, 1-0. All three games in the series between two of the worst teams in the NL were shutouts. David Weathers went five innings before he was hit by a Tim Pugh pitch trying to bunt and had to leave the game. His Marlins held on to win, 5-1, over Cincinnati to give Weathers his first win since Opening Day.

Are the Indians cooling off? The White Sox beat the Tribe, 3-2, to complete a three-game sweep of the team with baseball's best record that leaves them "only" 14.5 games behind the division leaders and "only" 10 games under .500. The ChiSox may have waited too late into the season to compete this year. Despite getting only four hits off Tribe starter Dennis Martinez, Chicago left with the victory. The Yankees rode a Paul O'Neill two-RBI triple to an 8-2 win over Toronto for their first four-game winning streak and first three-game series sweep of the season as Sterling Hitchcock outdueled Pat Hentgen. Cal Ripken's three-run shot overcame Jose Canseco's second homer of the year as Baltimore routed the Red Sox, 10-1, to earn a split in their four-game series. Alan Trammell's fifth career grand slam was the difference as Detroit beat Milwaukee, 6-3, with a five-run rally in the eighth. Steve Ontiveros won for the seventh time in eight decisions as Oakland beat Texas, 6-2, while Rickey Henderson passed Bid McPhee for 21st on the all-time runs scored list. The Twins-Royals were postponed after a 97-minute rain delay, and the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on September 18. And the Angels beat the Mariners, 7-5, as Lee Smith recorded his 19th save.
 

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June 26, 1995
Atlanta Braves 4 (W: Glavine, 6-4: SV: Wohlers, 5)
Montreal Expos 3 (L: Aquino, 0-2)
33-23
2nd place
4.5 games behind

BRAVES HAVE JUST ENOUGH TO EDGE MONTREAL, 4-3; PIAZZA HITS FIRST WALKOFF


It was the kind of game a team has to win in order to win a pennant (or - since this is 1995 - make the playoffs). The opponent outhits you and outfields you, your former Cy Young winning starter has a bad inning, your superstar slugger strikes out twice, and you turn over a narrow lead to a spotty bullpen but win. That's the kind of game the Atlanta Braves had tonight, falling into a quick 3-0 hole thanks to a horrid five batter sequence, but they rallied with just enough solid baseball that David Justice's 431-foot two-run homer was sufficient to carry the Braves past the Expos, 4-3, for their fourth win in a row and 10th in the last 13 games. It was also Montreal's tenth loss in their last 12 contests.

For three innings, the largely anonymous Gil Heredia outpitched Atlanta's lefty ace Tom Glavine, not permitting a single base runner while helping his team race out to a quick 3-0 lead. Heredia led off the top of the third with a single, moved to second on a single by former Brave Tony Tarasco, and both runners raced home on Wil Cordero's double. Singles by David Segui and Moises Alou sent Cordero across the plate to give Montreal a 3-0 lead, and Glavine was on the brink, with runners at first and second and nobody out. But Glavine knuckled down to limit further damage by striking out Rondell White and Mike Lansing and getting Mark Grudzielanek to to ground into a fielder's choice. Spotted prosperity but not as much as he should have, Heredia and the Expos began imploding in the bottom of the fourth.

In his second at-bat, Marquis Grissom got Atlanta's first hit with a single and then went to second when catcher Tim Laker tried to pick him off and threw wildly. Jones then moved to third on a single by Chipper Jones and scored when Fred McGriff lined a single into left field that narrowed the margin in Montreal's favor to 3-1. Heredia struck out Justice to end the inning, but he gave up a tape measure shot to Ryan Klesko leading off the fifth (1:37 in the video below) that brought the Braves within a run. Manager Felipe Alou pulled Heredia in favor of the courageous pinch-hitter Curtis Pride in the top of the sixth, and it took only three batters for Luis Aquino to relinquish what remained of Heredia's lead.

After retiring Chipper on a fly out to right, McGriff doubled and then David Justice, who had struck out both times at bat against Heredia, blasted a two-run shot to deep center field (1:46), and that was all she wrote. Glavine worked the seventh and gave way to first Greg McMichael and then the new closer, Mark Wohlers, and neither allowed a baserunner in retiring all six Expos they faced. The win leaves the Braves 4 1/2 games behind idle Philadelphia.

The Houston Astros followed their 19-run barrage of yesterday with 11 more today, ten in the first two innings. With a nine-run eighth yesterday and then a six-run first today, the Astros banged out 15 runs in just two innings against two different clubs, the Cubs and Cards. Rookie Orlando Miller drove home five runs while starter Greg Swindell went the distance to gain the shutout while surrendering only six hits. Carlos Garcia went 3-for-4 with a single, double, and home run and extended his hitting streak to 20 games as the Pirates beat the Cubs, 8-6, and dropped Chicago to .500 (28-28) for the first time this year. Steve Trachsel was not only the losing pitcher, but it dropped his career record to 1-11 in 18 starts at Wrigley Field. Bobby Bonilla homered twice and drove in all four Mets runs, but the Marlins overcame them with a five-run sixth largely based on two-run shots by Jeff Conine and Charles Johnson as Florida beat New York, 9-4. Mike Piazza, who missed 22 games with an injury, drove in five runs and achieved a career first when his three-run bomb off Trevor Hoffman - the only batter Hoffman faced - lifted LA to an 8-5 win over the Padres.

Jim Edmonds, certainly a better-known name than Carlos Garcia, extended his hitting streak to 20 games, but the Angels and Brian Anderson lost to Seattle, 7-3, thanks largely to home runs by both Edgar and Tino Martinez. Yankee rookie Andy Pettite won his third career game and extended New York's win streak to five as he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out four in the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Tigers in Detroit. Cecil Fielder slugged his 17th home run. The Boston Red Sox took a 3-0 lead into the ninth only to see closer Stan Belinda blow the lead, but Belinda then got the win to raise his record to 5-0 when Mike Greenwell was hit by a pitch, stole second, and came home on Luis Alicea's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win against reliever Tony Castillo. Texas - like Boston - took a 3-0 lead into the ninth. Texas - like Boston - gave up the lead when their closer collapsed. Texas - like Boston - ended the game with a 4-3 but unlike Boston, they were on the losing end. With two outs in the ninth, Benji Gil's throwing error scored Brent Gates to give Oakland a 4-3 win over the Rangers in Arlington. Rookie Chad Ogea lifted his record to 4-0, and the Indians ended a season-long four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Tom Gordon and the Royals. Kenny Lofton scored the first run and then drove in the second in the first two innings before leaving with a pulled hamstring. He is listed as day-to-day. Jamie Moyer took a no-hitter into the sixth and gave up only two hits as the Orioles beat the Brewers, 2-0. Brian Keyser got his first major league win thanks to two home run bombs by Frank Thomas as the ChiSox beat the Twins, 6-5, to win their fourth in a row.

Houston closer John Hudek has a blocked vein in his pitching (right) arm and will be shut down until further notice. Hudek made the All-Star team last year and was 2-2 with 7 saves before his injury. Thyroid cancer survivor Danny Jackson, 0-7 this year and suffering from fatigue from his post-operative medicine, has been activted off the DL by St Louis. Facing his first pitching as a Yankee, Darryl Strawberry launched a 400-foot home run in Tampa today. Ariel Prieto, Oakland's top pick and number five overall in the draft, reached a contract agreement with the team that is incentive-laden with over $1 million in bonuses. And the Twins released Bernardo Brito, who has hit .219 in 73 at bats in a 40-game major league career during the expanded roster periods of 1992-93-95.



Braves highlights begin in the video below at 0:58

 

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June 27, 1995
Montreal Expos 3 (W: Henry, 3-5; SV: Rojas, 12)
Atlanta Braves 0 (L: Avery, 2-4)
33-24
2nd place
4.5 games behind


BRAVES SHUT OUT FOR 1ST TIME IN 95; MURRAY 4 HITS FROM 3K;
NEAGLE'S GRAND SLAM BEATS CUBS



If you are a Braves fan and a betting man, there was no question in your mind which Atlanta pitcher would be on the mound when the Braves failed to score a run for the first time all season - and, of course, you were right. Despite going nine innings, giving up only five hits, and facing only four batters over the minimum for a no-hitter, Steve Avery again fell victim to a couple of bad pitches and egregiously shoddy run support as the Braves fell to the Expos, 3-0, the first time Atlanta has been shut out this year. The result leaves the Boston Red Sox as the only team in 1995 that has not yet been shut out by the opposition.

Avery pitched extremely well for eight innings, but he gave up two solo home runs in the first to Wil Cordero and Moises Alou. David Segui scored the third Montreal run in the fourth after he led off with a single, went to third on a single by Alou, and scored on an infield ground out by Rondell White. Butch Henry struck out five in 8.1 innings of four-hit ball, but he turned the game over to closer Mel Rojas after Marquis Grissom's single to center field with one out in the ninth. Rojas got a pop out from Jeff Blauser and an infield grounder to first by Chipper Jones to earn his 12th save of the season. The Expos also supported Henry with three double plays that erased potential Braves runs. The Red Sox, not shut out tonight, delivered the most dramatic win of the evening.

Bill Haselman entered the game late as a replacement for catcher Mike MacFarlane. With one out in the bottom of the 11th, Haselman lifted a cracked bat home run over the Green Monster (see 5:38 in video below) to give the Red Sox a 6-5 win and extend Toronto's losing streak to eight games, which is the same amount of time Manager Cito Gaston has been stuck on 499 career wins. The Red Sox bullpen blew their tenth opportunity this year as the Sox were ahead, 5-1, entering the seventh, but they rallied to win and have a six game lead over Detroit in the AL East. The Tigers got a Kirk Gibson home run - and nothing else against the Yankees as New York rode the arms of three bullpen pitchers to a 7-1 win over the Tigers while Manager Buck Showalter opted to give ace Jack McDowell an additional day of rest. Tony Fernandez hit a three-run homer while the three Yankee hurlers gave up but seven hits. Cleveland, batting an incredible .292 on the year, routed the Royals, 7-1, and Eddie Murray got three hits to come within four of the magical 3,000 number. Murray had two doubles and a single, but one of the doubles would likely have been a home run had a fan not reached over the fence to grab a fly ball over the head of Vince Coleman. Larry Barnett, the same umpire who couldn't see batter interference on a bunt in the 1975 World Series, managed to see fan interference from over 320 feet away. It is fortunate that post-season games have umpires close enough to see conclusively should these things happen with larger stakes. Jim Abbott finally got some run support thanks to rookie Ray Durham's three-run triple that led Chicago to an 8-6 win over the Twins. John DeSilva won his first major league start while rookie Manny Alexander drove in four runs in Baltimore's 11-3 brewing of Milwaukee. Craig Paquette and Ruben Sierra homered to lift Oakland to their third straight win, 6-4, over Seattle. The attendance was the smallest in the Kingdome since the final game of the 1992 season. Mickey Tettleton's two home runs - one into the right field upper deck of the Ballpark at Arlington - lifted Texas to a 10-6 win over the Angels that moves them into a first-place tie...with the Angels.

San Diego lit up the scoreboard against the Dodgers and Ramon Martinez, winning by the football score of 14-3 and ending LA's six-game winning streak. Former Giant Bill Swift returned to Candlestick Park and pitched a two-hitter through seven as Colorado beat San Francisco, 5-1. Mets rookie pitcher and future hope Bill Pulsipher got his first MLB win as he struck out nine and John Franco saved a 2-0 New York win over the Marlins. Pitcher John Smiley's home run - his second of the year -was part of a 12-run Reds night that included four home runs in a 12-3 waxing of the Phillies. Dave Hollins returned from his diabetes-related rest, but Andy Van Slyke has been placed on the 15-day DL. And speaking of pitchers slugging home runs, Pittsburgh's Denny Neagle unloaded a grand slam off of Cubs starter Jim Bullinger that was just enough to give the Pirates - and Neagle - a 6-5 win. Neagle is now 9-3 on the year. And finally, Doug Drabek FINALLY won a game in the Astrodome as he struck out 11 in Houston's 6-2 win over the Cardinals.

Last year's Rookie of the Year, Bob Hamelin, has been recalled to the majors by Kansas City while Greg Gagne has been put on the 15-day DL for a strained knee. Yankees starter Jimmy Key may miss the rest of the season if he doesn't improve soon. He cannot throw more than 10 pitches at a time. Key had arthroscopic shoulder surgery last October 19.

The Florida Marlins signed Alejandro Pena as a free agent while the Reds released former Atlanta Braves "Young Gun" Pete Smith, and the California Angels signed former Twin Carl Willis to a contract.

The Braves close out the series with Montreal tomorrow as Kent Mercker faces Pedro Martinez.


Braves highlights start in the video below at 7:00
 

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June 28, 1995
Atlanta Braves 4 (W: Clontz, 1-1)
Montreal Expos 3 (L: Rojas, 1-2)
34-24
2nd place
3.5 games behind

CLONTZ GETS 1ST MLB WIN ON JUSTICE WALKOFF AS BRAVES READY FOR PHILLY SERIES;
MANTLE LEAVES HOSPITAL


Pedro Martinez has to be wondering what happened today at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. All he did was allow the Atlanta Braves three hits and turn over a 3-2 lead to closer Mel Rojas against a team that has not had a ninth-inning rally for a win in over a year - since June 21, 1994. Martinez even helped his cause with a sacrifice fly that gave him his second RBI of the season. But Atlanta's bullpen, seemingly getting stronger as the year progresses, held serve after taking over for Kent Mercker while Montreal's failed when Fred McGriff walked to open the bottom of the ninth and David Justice, with multiple pulled tendons in the front of his right shoulder, smashed his seventh home run of the season to give Mel Rojas his fourth blown save and the Braves a 4-3 win over the Expos. The hit by Justice was only Atlanta's fourth of the game, but it was their third home run. Kent Mercker pitched reasonably well, going 7 innings while striking out four and giving up three runs to the Expos, but he left with the Braves trailing, 3-2.

Marquis Grissom led off the Atlanta half of the first with a deep solo shot off Pedro to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead, and it remained that way until Mercker weakened in the sixth. David Segui opened the inning with a double to left and moved up one base each on singles by Moises Alou and Rondell White. Sean Berry bunted both runners into scoring position, and Mike Lansing was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out. Then a walk to Tim Speher gave Montreal the lead, and a fly out to center by Pedro extended the Expo lead to 3-1. But Jeff Blauser's eighth home run of the season set the stage for the battle of the bullpens and for the third game in a row, Justice prevailed. Justice ends the series with Montreal with two game-winning home runs and a game-winning heave to throw out the tying run to end a game. The Braves now face a Phillies team getting more healthy by the day for a four-game series.

Brian McRae's grand slam was the key in a six-run inning that lifted the Cubs to a 10-3 win over the Pirates in a game delayed twice by rain. As if that wasn't weird enough, Cubs catcher Rick Wilkins left the field and learned he had been traded to the Houston Astros for Luis Gonzalez and Scott Servais. The loss stopped Pittsburgh's three-game winning streak and Carlos Garcia's 0-for-4 day ended his 21-game hitting streak. Wilkins's new team, Houston, routed the Cardinals, 9-0, on Mike Hampton's five-hitter, the fifth straight loss for St Louis. A Thomas Howard single to left and an errant pickoff throw that sent Howard all the way around the bases for Cincinnati's only run was enough to give C.J. Nitkowski his first major league win, 1-0, over Philly. Todd Hundley's two-out, two-run single broke an eighth inning tie and delivered Brett Saberhagen his fifth win in New York's 8-3 win over the Marlins. J.R. Phillips slapped a two-out single down the third base line to score Robby Thompson and give the Giants a 2-1 walkoff win over the Rockies in the bottom of the 11th. Ken Caminiti slammed two homers and drove in five runs as the Padres beat the Dodgers and Ismael Valdez, 8-2.

Eddie Murray's two-run bomb - the 2,997th hit of his stellar career - carried the Indians to a 5-2 win over the Royals for Cleveland's first four-game sweep of the Royals in Kansas City since 1981. It also dropped KC ace Kevin Appier to 11-3 on the year with two of those losses coming against Cleveland. Jason Bere struck out 14 while Robin Ventura homered twice as the White Sox won their sixth in a row, 4-3, over the Twins. David Cone struck out 11, Paul Molitor hit his 200th career home run, Cito Gaston won his 500th career game as a manager, and the Blue Jays ended an eight-game skid with an 8-4 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. David Wells struck out ten and won his fourth straight as the Tigers thumped the Yankees, 8-4, to end New York's six-game winning streak. Mark McGwire's two home runs lifted Oakland to a 7-2 win over Seattle. Mike Mussina won his 7th game and Harold Baines slammed his 8th home run as the Orioles beat the Brewers, 4-2, in Milwaukee. And then there was the game of the night in Arlington, Texas.

The Angels roared out to an 8-2 lead over the Rangers after six innings in a matchup of the teams' two aces, Mark Langston and Kenny Rogers, the latter gone in the fifth. Langston gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh to narrow the gap to 8-4. After retiring Will Clark, Langston left in favor of Troy Percival, who got Juan Gonzalez to ground out. After walking the hot-hitting Mickey Tettleton, the Angels appeared out of the inning when a Damian Easley error put Pudge Rodriguez on first. A walk to Rusty Greer loaded the bases for Esteban Beltre, whose double narrowed the score to 8-6 and brought out Lee Smith - as in major league record 18 consecutive saves Lee Smith, and his 0.00 ERA for the season. Smith struck out Benji Gil, leaving the Angels three outs from the win. And that's when it got weirder.

Otis Nixon walked and then moved to third on a Mark McLemore single. Will Clark's double scored both runners to tie the game, leaving the Rangers with the winning run at second, nobody out, and RBI machine Juan Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez grounded out but sent Clark to third, so the Angels walked Tettleton to set up the potential double play. But Pudge lined a single to center to complete the comeback and end Smith's consecutive saves streak. It also knocked the Angels out of first place and left Texas there all by themselves.

Not feeling all by himself is Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who walked out of Baylor Hospital under his own power today less than three weeks after receiving a life-saving liver transplant. Because of his fame, Mantle has largely been isolated from the public and visitors, so the hospital waited until he left to announce it to the press.

The Braves have an off day tomorrow, so we will include an overview of games as well as a look at the statistics leaders two months into the 1995 season.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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June 29, 1995
Off day
34-24
2nd place
3 games behind

REDS TIE PHILS WITH BEST NL RECORD; MURRAY ONE SHORT OF 3K HITS


Ever since May 8th, when the Phillies completed a four-game sweep of favored Atlanta, Philadelphia has had the best record in the National League save for a day here and there early in the season, but they no longer occupy that rung all alone. Thanks to a six-run outburst in the top of the first, the Cincinnati Reds completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a 10-4 blowout of Paul Quantrill, who didn't complete the first inning, and four relievers. The win ties Cincinnati with Philly for the NL's best record as the Reds outscored the Phils, 23-7, in the three games. The Phillies are reeling with the up-and-coming Atlanta Braves at the Vet for a four-game series starting tomorrow.

There were only two other games in the National League. Ramon Caraballo hit his first big league homer and Ken Hill got his first win in six decisions as the Cards beat the Cubs, 6-4, at Wrigley. And Colorado showed their road bats have nothing on their home lumber, particularly when facing rookie Hideo Nomo. The newbie struck out 13 Rockies and rode a Mike Piazza homer to a 3-0 complete game win that lifted his record to 6-1. The AL, by contrast, had only two teams relaxing today. The Angels certainly were not relaxed in Arlington.

The Angels rode two errors and seven hits to a jarring 11 runs in Texas. Then they went out and took the field to face the first Ranger batter behind number two starter Chuck Finley. Finley was not as his best but spotted 11 runs, he didn't have to be, either. Texas got a run in the bottom of the first on back-to-back doubles by Will Clark and Juan Gonzalez, and they added three more in the second, including one on a solo shot by Pudge Rodriguez. But by the time Finley got the hook, it was 14-4 in his team's favor, and the Angels chased 20 runs across the plate without hitting a single home run. Jim Edmonds extended his hitting streak to 23 games, which ties Dante Bichette's season-long streak from earlier in the month. As amazing as this sounds, it wasn't even close to the most runs scored in a baseball game today. That's because the White Sox and Brewers combined for 30 runs on 37 hits, including 17 extra-base hits in a 17-13 Chicago win over Milwaukee at County Stadium. Alex Fernandez evened his record at 4-4. Eddie Murray singled and homered off Scott Erickson to put his career hits total at 2,999 in Cleveland's 10-5 rout of Minnesota that saw Bud Black win his fourth game. A five-run eighth lifted Boston to a 7-1 win over Detroit in Fenway. Mike Blowers hit a three-run bomb in the eighth that assured Seattle of a win over Oakland by the score of 5-2. Joe Carter hit two of Toronto's four home runs as Juan Guzman and the Jays beat Sid Fernandez and the Orioles in the battle of the birds, 5-1.

The Braves signed Adam Butler as a free agent and claimed Eddie Tucker off waivers from the Indians. KC signed shortstop Kevin Elster to a free agent deal.

MLB LEADERS AS OF JUNE 29, 1995

Home Runs:

NL - Larry Walker (17)
AL - Mark McGwire (21)

Batting Average:
NL - Jim Eisenreich (.369)
AL - Edgar Martinez (.375)

RBIs
NL - Reggie Sanders (48)
AL - Edgar Martinez (52)

Steals
NL - Quilvio Veras (21)
AL - Tom Goodwin (23)

Wins
NL - Denny Neagle (9)
AL - Kevin Appier (11)

Losses
NL - Paul Wagner (10)
AL - Danny Darwin (8)

Saves
NL - Heathcliff Slocumb (19)
AL - Jose Mesa, Lee Smith (19)

ERA
NL -Greg Maddux (1.85)
AL - Tim Wakefield (1.61)

Innings Pitched
NL - Denny Neagle (96.1)
AL - Kevin Appier (109.2)

Ks
NL - Hideo Nomo (109)
AL - Randy Johnson (131)

Standings
AL East - Boston Red Sox (+6 over Detroit)
AL Central - Cleveland (+9 over Kansas City)
AL West - California Angels, Texas Rangers
AL Wildcard - loser of Angels/Rangers race (+2 over Oakland)
NL East - Philadelphia (+3 over Atlanta)
NL Central - Cincinnati (+5.5 over Houston)
NL West - Los Angeles (+0.5 over Colorado)
NL Wildcard - Atlanta (+3 over Colorado)

BRAVES VS PHILLIES PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game 1 - Tyler Greene vs John Smoltz (even)
Game 2 - Greg Maddux vs David West (edge Atlanta)
Game 3 - Tom Glavine vs Mike Mimbs (edge Atlanta)
Game 4 - Steve Avery vs Curt Schilling (edge Philadelphia)
 
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June 30, 1995
Philadelphia Phillies 3 (W: Green, 8-4; SV: Slocumb, 20)
Atlanta Braves 1 (L: Smoltz, 7-4)
34-25
2nd place
4 games behind


PHILS TOP BRAVES IN OPENER; OAKLAND BEATS ANGELS ON WALKOFF GRAND SLAM;
MURRAY SINGLES FOR HIT NUMBER 3,000


Ever since the Philadelphia Phillies swept the Atlanta Braves in early May, the Phillies have led the NL East while the Braves have been attempting to play catch-up without any head-to-head competition. After the opening game of the rematch set, the Braves might simply ought to hope for someone else to take out Philly or hope a repetition of recent seasons where the Phils play awful in the second half while the Braves play lights out is enough to lift Atlanta to the division flag. The Phils ran their 1995 record to 5-0 against the Braves and increased their division lead to four games with a 3-1 triumph over the Braves in a game where John Smoltz pitched spectacularly well save for a four battter sequence in the seventh inning that was enough to beat him. Philly has won their five games against four of Atlanta's starting pitchers as they've not yet faced Steve Avery. The game was typical of games Smoltz has lost over the last five seasons. He pitches very well, has a bad sequence, gets almost no run support, and he gets an "L" next to his name in the box score. This contest followed the template to a tee.

Smoltz zoomed through the Philly lineup with a no-hitter through five innings. Tyler Green did almost as well, holding the Braves without a hit until the fourth when Atlanta scored their only run of the game. A single by Fred McGriff, a walk to David Justice, and a single by Ryan Klesko scored McGriff to give Smoltz and the Braves a 1-0 lead, and although Philly got their first hit in the sixth when Lenny Dykstra singled leading off the inning, Dykstra was retired on a fielder's choice grounder and Smoltz was cruising until after the seventh inning stretch. The Braves blew an opportunity at a run in the top of the seventh when Ryan Klesko singled and was replaced on the basepaths by the much faster Mike Kelly. Green balked Kelly to second, and Javy Lopez hit a single to right that Jim Eisenreich fielded and gunned to Darren Daulton at home plate that just beat Kelly home and kept the score at 1-0.

Leading off the seventh, Smoltz walked Charlie Hayes, a seemingly inocucous mistake that was the first rock in the avalanche. Smoltz struck out Kevin Stocker and retired Green on a sacrifice bunt that put Hayes at second with two outs. And all of a sudden, Smoltz couldn't get anybody out. Dykstra, Mickey Morandini, Tony Longmire, and Dave Hollins all singled, scoring three runs and bringing the dangerous Daulton to the plate while Pedro Borbon took the mound for Atlanta. Borbon walked Daulton to put runners at first and second and retired Jim Eisenreich on a fly ball to end the inning, but the damage was done. Atlanta got single runners in the eighth and ninth inning, but Heathcliff Slocumb continued his closer dominance, picking up his 20th save of the season and fourth against Atlanta by striking Javy Lopez and pinch-hitter Dwight Smith to end the game. Afterwards, Eisenreich said, "You would think when he (Smoltz) only gives up five hits, he's going to win the game, and he does win most of those games. We were lucky tonight." Atlanta's best chance may lie in tomorrow's starter, Greg Maddux, who leads the NL in ERA. Maddux wasn't the losing pitcher of record in May, but he had to leave after five innings because of the shortened spring training where he had only one start due to a lengthy bout with chicken pox.

Most of the drama for the night was in the American League. Eddie Murray's sixth inning single off Mike Trombley made him the 20th player - and only the second switch-hitter (Pete Rose) - to reach the coveted 3,000 hit plateau. Fittingly, the 19th to reach the mark was his teammate, Dave Winfield, who snapped a photo of Murray perched on first. The Indians won the game, 4-1, as Dennis Martinez ran his record to 7-0 while Jose Mesa notched his 20th save. And then there was the high drama in Oakland. The Athletics and Angels took a 4-4 tie into the ninth and doubles by Spike Owen and Greg Myers off of relief ace Dennis Eckersley (see 2:21 in the video below) put the Angels in front, 5-4. Lee Smith, who recently set the record for consecutive saves, came on to close the deal, and he got Stan Javier to ground out to third before giving up a double to Mike Bordick. Or did he? Replays appear to show Bordick was clearly thrown out at the base (see 2:49), but umpire Dave Phillips ruled him safe.

A Rickey Henderson single and stolen base put both runners in scoring position with one out, so Smith intentionally walked Geronimo Berroa to set up the force at any base. He struck out Ruben Sierra, leaving the Angels one out away from the win with leading home run hitter Mark McGwire at the plate. Given the extra out, McGwire launched a missile into the left-field seats (3:07) for a walkoff grand slam that gave the Athletics an 8-5 win. As if losing the game wasn't bad enough, Jim Edmonds lost his hitting streak at 23 games when he went 0-for-5. Juan Gonzalez homered twice in Texas's 10-2 win over the Mariners in Seattle. Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker lightened the mood by throwing batting practice, and the loose atmosphere inspired Milwaukee as the Brew Crew lit up the Yankees, 12-6, to end their seven-game losing streak. The White Sox saw their seven-game winning streak end as well in a 1-0 loss to Mark Gubicza and the Royals. Angered by a brushback pitch from Mike Gardiner, Jose Canseco smashed a sixth inning home run and then struck out in both the seventh and ninth in Boston's 7-6 loss to Detroit. Alex Gonzalez singled home the winning run with one out in the ninth to lift the Blue Jays to a 6-5 win over the Orioles and give Toronto their first three-game winning streak of the season. Cal Ripken and Chris Hoiles homered for Baltimore.

There was a walkoff in the NL, too, as Barry Bonds - not quite as dramatic as McGwire - drilled a three-run home run off San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman with one out in the ninth to give the Giants a 7-6 win over the Padres. Six balls left the yard at Shea as the Mets edge the Reds, 7-6, in a game that saw the game's greatest bargain, Ron Gant, hit his 17th homer of the season. After being shut out yesterday, the Colorado Rockies scored two runs in the top of the first off Tom Candiotti - one on Larry Walker's steal of home against the knuckleballer - and then held on for dear life as Eric Karros led off the ninth with a home run, and the Dodgers got the tying run to third base with one out but failed to score in a 2-1 loss at Chavez Ravine. Pittsburgh's suddenly potent bats blasted Darryl Kile, who dropped to 3-7 on the year in the Pirates' 12-9 win over Houston at the Astrodome. Four Florida Marlins homers routed Carlos Perez and the Expos, 10-1. And the Cubs had two shots to tie the game with one out in the ninth but failed in their 3-1 loss to St Louis that saw Tom Henke gain his 16th save. The key blow in the game was Cardinal starter Ugueth Urbani's seventh inning home run that gave St Louis the two-run lead.

The Minnesota Twins granted Kevin Maas free agency while the Padres signed former Oakland hurler Greg Cadaret. And there are serious rumors developing that Toronto may trade ace David Cone to the Yankees. Toronto GM Gordon Ash acknowledged the two teams had been talking in the past week regarding Cone going to New York to replace last year's Cy Young runner-up Jimmy Key, who is out for the season.



Braves highlights begin at 5:32 below:

 

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July 1, 1995
Atlanta Braves 3 (W: Maddux, 8-1)
Philadelphia Phillies 1 (L: West, 2-2)
35-25
2nd place
3 games behind

MADDUX, JUSTICE LEAD BRAVES TO WIN


Tonight's game at the Vet looked an awful lot like last night's game at the Vet. Both the Phillies and Braves had but five hits. Jeff Blauser had an error. The losing team had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. The Phillies had only one hit entering the seventh inning. The winning team scored all 3 runs in one inning. And the final score was 3-1. That being said, there were enough differences to notice it was not exactly the same game, the most notable being that Atlanta rather than Philadephia won. There was also an ejection when Darren Daulton was tossed after striking out in the fourth and arguing with plate umpire Charlie Reliford about the strike zone.

There wasn't much to talk about. There never is when Greg Maddux is on the mound other than Maddux, who went the distance for his fourth complete game while striking out 11 and walking (wait for it) nobody, running his string to an amazing 47 consecutive innings without walking a single batter. And he lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.78. As far as the Atlanta offense, Jeff Blauser reached on a David West error, moved to third on a Fred McGriff double - and all three runs came home courtesy of a David Justice home run that provided the win. Philly's one run came in the eighth with two outs when Mariano Duncan and Len Dykstra hit consecutive doubles, but Maddux knuckled down and got the win.

NL RBI leader Sammy Sosa (52) went 3-for-4, including his 15th homer, and drove in four runs as the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 8-7, at Wrigley. Shane Reynolds pitched a six-hitter and Brian Hunter hit in his 11th straight game as Houston routed the Pirates, 11-0. Mark Carreon homered and drove in three runs as the Giants got William VanLandingham his first win of the year with a 4-1 triumph over the Padres that saw Rod Beck get the final four outs for his 13th save. Jeff Fassero, winless since arbitration made him only a single millionaire rather than a double millionaire, finally won again as the Expos beat the Marlins, 11-8, as Moises Alou drove in three runs and David Segui extended his hit streak to 12 games. Ron Gant hit one of Cincinnati's four solo home runs in the Reds' 5-4 win that ended the Mets' three-game winning streak. Todd Worrell blew his first save in the last 14 chances when he gave up a game-tying home run to Andres Galarraga, but Roberto Kelly scored on Chris Gwynn's sacrifice fly in the eighth to carry the Dodgers to a 5-4 win over the Rockies.

The Twins rode home runs by Pedro Munoz and Marty Cordova to a 6-5 win over Cleveland that ended Minnesota's five-game losing streak. Brad Radke won his fourth game while Rick Aguilera got his 13th save. Rookie Curtis Goodwin slammed his first major league home run and Jamie Moyer scattered six hits in 7.1 innings as the Orioles beat Toronto, 6-2. Paul Molitor's solo shot in the sixth was his fifth home run of the year. Stan Javier, Geronimo Berroa, and Craig Paquette smashed home runs and Ruben Sierra a two-run single as Oakland beat the Angels, 5-1, to give Todd Stottlemyre his first home win in an Athletics uniform and lift Oakland to six games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 1992 season when they last won a pennant. Tim Belcher broke a three-game losing streak by giving up only six hits and winning the decision over Texas, 2-0, largely on Tino Martinez's home run. Four Kansas City errors and 14 hits by the White Sox gave Chicago an 11-3 easy win over the Royals. Detroit and Boston combined for 27 hits and 13 runs - but the Tigers got 11 of those runs in a blowout at Fenway Park courtesy of two Cecil Fielder moonshots. And the Yankees saw their last baserunner, Paul O'Neill, gunned down at home to end the 12th inning - but only after the Bombers got two runs to beat Milwaukee, 3-1, in extras.

All-Star rosters will be released tomorrow.
 

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July 2, 1995
Atlanta Braves 5 (W: Glavine, 7-4; SV: Wohlers, 6)
Philadelphia Phillies 3 (L: Mimbs, 6-2)
36-25
2nd place
2 games behind

BRAVES CLOSE GAP ON PHILS; FAN INTENDING TO KILL ALOMAR ARRESTED WITH LOADED GUN;
BASEBALL FAN INTEREST DOWN BY 1/3 THANKS TO STRIKE
.....AND ALL-STAR SELECTIONS


The Atlanta Braves haven't been this close to the division lead since May 9. And they ended the seeming hex the Phillies held over them this season and got a little revenge on Mike Mimbs, who won his first career start against the Braves when the two teams met in Atlanta in early May. Riding a four-run inning, the solid start of Tom Glavine, and the high-wire act of the Braves' bullpen, Atlanta held on to beat Philly, 5-3, to narrow Philadelphia's lead in the NL East standings to two games. It also gave Atlanta a 2-1 series edge and set the stage for tonight's pivotal third game that sees two former NLCS MVPs, Steve Avery (1991) and Curt Schilling (1993) square off in what will be the most important game of the season up to this point for both squads.

Philly got to Glavine in the third inning when Kevin Stocker, aboard at first thanks to a fielder's choice grounder, raced all the way around on a Lenny Dykstra double to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But Atlanta broke through in a big way the next time they batted. With one out, the Braves loaded the bases with singles by Chipper Jones and Fred McGriff and a walk to David Justice. Javy Lopez lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Jones to tie the game, and Mike Kelly lifted a deep ball to left that the bulky Gregg Jefferies couldn't quite flag down, scoring both runners and giving Atlanta a 3-1 lead. Kelly scored moments later on a single by Rafael Belliard. Glavine cruised through 7, giving up only 5 hits and the one run, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth, and the Phils had their opening though a base-to-base sequence scored Kelly to give Atlanta a 5-1 lead by that time.

Greg McMichael took the mound for Glavine in the eighth and retired the first two hitters, but a double to Dave Hollins and a walk to Darren Daulton brought in Mark Wohlers to close out the eighth and set himself up for a save in the ninth. The first batter, Charlie Hayes, ripped a double to center that scored both runners and brought pinch-hitter Tony Longmire to the plate. He singled to shortstop, bringing up Jim Eisenreich as the potential winning run. He worked the count but then watched an inside fastball by Wohlers catch enough of the plate for a strikeout, and the Braves were off the hook. Wohlers retired the side in order, and the Braves ended the day just two games behind Philadelphia while Glavine lifted his all-time record against the Phillies to a stout 13-5.

It was a night of blown leads in the American League.

The Detroit Tigers blew a five-run lead against the Boston Red Sox.
The Boston Red Sox blew a five-run lead against the Detroit Tigers.
In the end, Lee Tinsley's bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth off Joe Boever was enough to give the Red Sox the 12-11 win in a game that saw Mo Vaughn hit two homers. Boston ran up an eight-run inning while trailing 5-0 only to see the Tigers come roaring back with a five-run ninth that forced the Red Sox to bat. The Chicago White Sox blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth at Kansas City as Bob Hamelin - last year's Rookie of the Year who has been this year's colossal bust and spent much of the season in the minors - smashed a two-out, two-run homer off Tim Fortugno to tie the game only to see Tim Raines score courtesy of his own double, an infield ground out that moved him to third, and a wild pitch that led to Chicago's 6-5 win. The Toronto Blue Jays blew a seven-run lead by giving up a seven-run ninth inning after they'd surrendered two runs in the eighth which was enough to help the Orioles fly into the winner's circle by a 9-7 final score. Right fielder Shawn Green dropped a potential game-ending fly ball that led to two runs in an inning that saw 11 Orioles go to the plate against Toronto's pathetic bullpen. The Mariners blew a 3-1 seventh inning lead when Juan Gonzalez smacked a two-run shot to tie it, but Seattle prevailed in the bottom of ninth despite having the first attempt at a winning run thrown out at third base. Felix Fermin scored on Joey Cora's single to beat reliever Matt Whiteside of Texas. Milwaukee probably would have blown their four-run lead against the Yankees but for the fortuitous bounce of the ball. New York rallied from deficits of 5-1 and 7-3 to the winning run at bat in the form of Wade Boggs. Luis Polonia coaxed a one-out walk and was just a few feet short of second when Boggs's high chopper smashed against his face, giving Boggs a single and retiring Polonia because he was struck by the batted ball. Paul O'Neill grounded out, and the Brewers had a 7-6 win. California took a 7-0 lead into the ninth...and won although the first two Oakland batters doubled to break up the shutout. Mike Bielecki won his fourth game against five losses this year in the Angels's 7-1 triumph. Cleveland routed the Twins, 7-0, but will lose Eddie Murray, who just surpassed the 3,000 hit mark, for an undetermined period of time. Murray slid into home safe in the third inning but broke two ribs in the resultant collision with Minnesota catcher Matt Walbeck. When he attempted to swing the bat his next time up, the pain was so brutal that Murray had to be removed from the game.

But it wasn't just the AL that spent the night blowing huge leads late, either. The Montreal Expos took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth, fell behind 6-5, and rallied to win, 7-6, thanks to doubles by Moises Alou and Darrin Fletcher and a single by Jeff Treadway. The Cubs took a 7-2 lead into the ninth and had the tying run in scoring position when Randy Myers struck out John Mabry to give Chicago a narrow 7-6 win over the Cardinals. Myers faced four batters and only retired two - and allowed three runs to score - but in the quirkly world of baseball statistics, he gets a save. Greg Swindell outdueled Denny Neagle as the Astros won for the sixth time in seven games with a 5-3 win over the Pirates. During that seven-game span, Houston has outscored their opponents, 70-22. John Smiley, perhaps this year's best-known All-Star snub among pitchers (see below), struck out a career high ten batters and pitched 8 innings while allowing just six hits in Cincinnati's 4-1 win over the Mets that saw Jeff Brantley get his 14th save. Andres Galarraga drilled a grand slam while Bill Swift pitched eight great innings for a 10-1 Colorado win over the Dodgers. And the Padres had three separate five-run innings while boatracing the Giants, 15-3. Andy Benes won his third game while Steve Finley hit his fifth home run of the year.

A distraught female fan was arrested with a loaded pistol at the SkyDome hotel with the intent to kill Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar. Tricia Miller, 31, a factory worker from Ontario had met Alomar once but had no relationship with him. She left a message on his answering machine over the weekend and then checked into the SkyDome hotel with the intent of murdering Alomar and then committing suicide. Alomar was pulled from the loss with Baltimore in the eighth inning for his own safety and coincidentally, the shorstop replacement for Domingo Cedeno (who had to replace Alomar at second) made a crucial error during the O's seven-run rally.

Viewership and admiration of MLB Is down by about 1/3 thanks to the strike. In a Harris Poll from May 1994, about 49% of Americans polled said they followed major league baseball, a number that has dropped as of three weeks ago to around 33%. Attendance per game is down by about 20%. The same poll showed that the Atlanta Braves are the most popular team that fans follow (14%) followed by the New York Yankees (9%).

And...it's time for the All-Star Game. The ballots have been counted, stuffed, rigged, and whatever else, and the game will be next week at the new Ballpark in Arlington. Fans vote for the starting eight on each team while managers select the replacements and pitching staffs. Because there was no World Series last year, the managers are the leaders of the team with the best record in each league last year, Buck Showalter of the Yankees and Felipe Alou of the Expos. The Indians lead the way with six players selected by the two groups combined. Note that Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Williams, and Ozzie Smith are on the disabled list and cannot play. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cal Ripken got the most overall votes while Barry Bonds got the most for an NL player.

AL STARTERS (RESERVES)
C - Pudge Rodriguez (Mike Stanley)
1B - Frank Thomas (Mark McGwire, Mo Vaughn)
2B - Carlos Baerga (Roberto Alomar)
3B - Wade Boggs (Edgar Martinez)
SS - Cal Ripken (Gary Disarcina, Kevin Seitzer)
OF - Albert Belle, Ken Griffey Jr, Kirby Puckett (Jim Edmonds, Kenny Lofton, Paul O'Neill, Manny Ramirez)

Pitchers: Kevin Appier, Chuck Finley, Erik Hanson, Randy Johnson, Dennis Martinez, Jose Mesa, Steve Ontiveros, Kenny Rogers, Lee Smith, David Well

NL STARTERS (RESERVES)
C - Mike Piazza (Darren Daulton)
1B - Fred McGriff (Mark Grace)
2B - Craig Biggio (Mickey Morandini)
3B - Matt Williams (Bobby Bonilla)
SS - Ozzie Smith (Barry Larkin, Jose Offerman)
OF - Barry Bonds, Lenny Dykstra, Tony Gwynn (Dante Bichette, Jeff Conine, Ron Gant, Raul Mondesi, Reggie Sanders, Sammy Sosa)

Pitchers: Tyler Green, Tom Henke, Greg Maddux, Randy Myers, Denny Neagle, Hideo Nomo, Carlos Perez, Heathcliff Slocumb, Todd Worrell

Braves highlights start at 5:38 in the video below:
 
Last edited:

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July 3, 1995
Atlanta Braves 10 (W: Avery, 3-5)
Philadelphia Phillies 4 (L: Schilling, 5-4)
37-25
2nd place
1 game behind

BRAVES TAKE SERIES IN ROUT; MORGAN LOSES NO-NO IN 9TH;
A LOOK AT ALL-STAR SNUBS AND TRADE TALKS HEAT UP AS DEADLINE NEARS


The Philadelphia Phillies drew their first sellout crowd of the season tonight to see a battle between two of the best teams in the National League led by - when both pitchers are at their best - two of the best pitchers in baseball. Their seats were not even warm as the Atlanta Braves tore out of the starting gate and raced to a 10-0 lead, finally giving Steve Avery some solid run support, and held on for a 10-4 win that clinched the series, 3-1, for the Braves and left them a scant game out of first as they head home for a six-game homestand against the Dodgers and Giants and get their first cuts at NL Rookie of the Year candidate Hideo Nomo's delayed plate delivery on Wednesday night on ESPN. The question that remains is whether the Braves have now gotten close enough to scare the Phillies out of the division lead, or will Philadelphia reassert themselves and provide an interesting race to the flag? On one level, of course, this does not matter now that baseball has the wildcard. Both teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today. But momentum surely favors the Braves after getting such a solid all-around performance from the lineup against a solid pitcher like Curt Schilling.

Schilling struck out Marquis Grissom to start the game, but he found trouble rather quickly. Jeff Blauser singled to center and stole second and then after a Chipper Jones walk, both runners moved ahead on a double steal. Doubles by David Justice and Charlie O'Brien sandwiched around a Kevin Stocker error on a Ryan Klesko grounder gave Avery a 3-0 lead as the took the mound in a season that has been largely uphill for the former NLCS MVP. Channeling the craftiness that helped him win two 1-0 contests with the Pirates in the 1991 playoffs, Avery got through the seventh inning giving up only four hits and no runs. Schilling, meanwhile, lost the strike zone and began walking batters almost as a matter of course, giving up three walks and a single in the fifth that gave Atlanta two more runs before Schilling was yanked in favor of Mike Williams, who got out of the jam without further damage. Kyle Abbott came on in the sixth for Philly and gave up two singles and a walk that scored Grissom and made the lead 6-0. In the seventh, a Klesko double and a Rafael Belliard single scored Klesko's pinch-runner Mike Kelly to make it 7-0, Atlanta. Braves Manager Bobby Cox was faced with the decision of whether or not to get his shaky bullpen work or let Avery continue down the successful trail he was blazing. As it turned out, he had to do both.

After retiring Mariano Duncan to start the bottom of the eighth, Avery prepared to face the lineup for the fourth time and ran into trouble quickly. Lenny Dykstra doubled and Mickey Morandini singled to score Dykstra and end the shutout, which was all Cox needed to pull Avery after a successful night. Reliever - and former Philly Cy Young winner - Steve Bedrosian came on and gave up a run-scoring single to Gregg Jefferies and then a three-run shot to Dave Hollins, which close the score to 10-4. But Bedrosian almost seemed to settle down calmly after clearing the bases, retiring four of the next five batters across two innings to nail down Avery's third win of the season. It was Atlanta's seventh win in their last ten games.

Poor Mike Morgan. The good news is that he won his start for the Cardinals, 6-0, over the Expos. The bad news is that after taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning and getting within two outs of baseball's first no-no of 1995, Morgan not only gave up a hit, he didn't even finish the game. After Wil Cordero beat out an infield hit to break up the bid for history, Cardinal Manager Mike Jorgensen pulled the 35-year old starter in favor of former Brave Jeff Parrett, who got the final two outs. Morgan wasn't helped by the three Cardinal errors, either, but in the end all that mattered was St Louis won the game. And while Morgan wasn't perfect, Andres Galarraga was. The Big Cat banged out six hits in six at-bats, two home runs, a double, and three singles, and drove in five runs in Colorado's 15-10 football score win over Houston. It was the second straight game where Galarraga drove home five runs. With their recent power surge, the Astros have now scored more runs than any other team in the National League (331). Astros Manager Terry Collins said of his first-ever game in Coors Field, "This place is a joke to say the least. It's worse than Mile High." The Giants raced out to a 5-0 lead and then took the field for the bottom of the first in Cincinnati. But the Reds also ran at will, stealing five bases that included three in the seventh that netted a three-run inning and tied the contest. But with two outs in the eighth, Barry Bonds scorched a solo home run and Rod Beck got his 14th save in San Francisco's 8-7 win that ends the Giants' seven-game losing streak against the Reds. Rey Sanchez hit his first home run in three years off projected Mets phenom Bill Pulsipher, who took a four-hitter into the eighth then gave up the game-losing two-run shot to Sanchez that barely cleared the wall in right centerfield. Terry Pendleton hit his fifth homer and drove in all five runs while John Burkett won his fifth game as the Marlins topped the Padres, 5-2.

It was a rough night for All-Star pitchers in the AL - well, some of them anyway. A seven-run fourth inning that included a bases clearing triple by Mo Vaughn sent Kevin Appier to an early shower and the Royals to an early defeat as the Red Sox triumphed, 12-5. Vaughn drove in more runs by himself (6) than Kansas City scored, slugging two home runs. Zane Smith got the win while Mike Maddux, not as well-known as his brother, got his first save of 1995. The Indians rode the pitching of Charles Nagy's seven scoreless innings and home runs by Sandy Alomar and Herbert Perry to a 9-1 rout of the Kenny Rogers and the Rangers. The Tribe have baseball's best home record (22-7), best overall record (43-18), and are 7-1 in their last eight. Mark Langston outdueled David Cone, 4-2, thanks largely to Greg Myers's three-run shot in the third that gave the Angels all they would need to top Toronto. Rafael Palmeiro's second homer of the game snapped 4-4 tie in the seventh and gave Mike Mussina his eighth win of the season in Baltimore's 9-4 win over Kevin Tapani and the Twins. Jack McDowell appears to be out of his early season slump as he returned to his old stomping grounds at Comiskey for the first time since leaving the White Sox and pitched a six-hit complete game in the Yankees' 8-4 win that saw Danny Tartabull slam his fifth home run. David Wells pitched eight good innings and then left the game in the ninth with a 4-0 lead, the bases loaded, and the tying run at the plate with nobody out. Mike Henneman came on and though he gave up a hit that plated two runs, he got his 15th save of the year by retiring the heart of Seattle's lineup, striking out Tino Martinez to end the game. A 3-3 tie entering the tenth saw the Brewers rally for four runs in Oakland as they beat the Athletics, 7-3.

We are now in July and just four weeks from the July 31 trade deadline, but it remains to be seen how outside variables will alter trades in the new baseball world. Teams in contention for the wildcard may - or may not - make trades in hopes of winning now. The fact there may be yet another work stoppage since there's still no agreement is another potential factor, although the assumption is that a deal will be reached soon. Several names continue to come up in trade talks, particularly if the player is eligible for free agency at the end of this season (or, in some cases, next) or if a team is one solid player away from perhaps winning the World Series.

The big names rumored for expendability this year include:
- former two-time Cy Young winner Brett Saberhagen (Mets)
- closer John Franco (Mets)
- last year's Cy Young winner and common rent-a-player David Cone (Blue Jays)
- Kevin Tapani (Twins)
- former 20-game winner Scott Erickson (Twins)
- closer Rick Aguilera (Twins)
- David Wells (Tigers)
- former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek (Astros)
- Greg Swindell (Astros)
- Ken Hill (Cardinals)
- Bobby Witt (Marlins)
- John Burkett (Marlins)
- Jay Bell (Pirates)
- Bobby Bonilla (Mets)
- Greg Vaughan (Brewers)
- Moises Alou (Expos)

As always, there are a few All-Star snubs, largely the result of the process that lets fans choose the starters even if the player is a veteran on his last legs or the manager does a favor for the guys on his team at the expense of someone else. The National League wound up with the league's leading hitter (Derek Bell, .353 league-leading average and most hits) and a guy tied for the lead in home runs (Larry Walker), the latter of whom just happened to play for the All-Star manager last season. Shawon Dunston could have had his feelings hurt, but he didn't. And John Smiley has as many wins as Greg Maddux (second in the NL with 8) and recently had a 20-win season, but he didn't get invited, either. Bell was angry, Smiley miffed, and Walker said he didn't care, he had a three-day golf break.

Billy Hatcher, a hero of the 1990 Reds team that stunned the world with a sweep of Oakland, quietly retired last week. John Hudek's fate remains uncertain other than he is out for this year. The Padres signed Rob Deer as a free agent while the Royals released Kevin Elster.

The Braves head home to face the Dodgers for July 4th.

Braves highlights begin at 2:46 in the video below:

 

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July 4, 1995
Atlanta Braves 3 (W: Clontz, 2-1; SV: Wohlers, 7)
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 (L: Valdez, 5-4)
38-25
1st place

BRAVES COME BACK TO WIN GAME, TAKE FIRST PLACE;
ROOKIE RIVERA THROWS TWO-HITTER, STRIKES OUT 11 FOR YANKS


The series win at Philadelphia had rejuvenated the fan base of the Atlanta Braves, who turned out over 49,000 strong for an Independence Night game between the Braves, battling for first place, and the Dodgers, also battling for first place. So big was the game that 50 friends and family members drove down to Atlanta from Virginia in hopes of seeing Brad Clontz appear in the game. Clontz not only appeared in the game and retired both batters he faced, he was the winning pitcher of record after Mike Mordecai - who pinch-hit for Clontz - bunted Dwight Smith over to second, and Smith scored on a Jeff Blauser broken bat single to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Mark Wohlers set the Dodgers down in order for his seventh save, and the Braves had yet another comeback win. And because Philadelphia was blown out earlier in the day, 7-0, by the Pirates, the Braves are back in a first-place tie with the Phillies as they prepare to face rookie sensation Hideo Nomo tomorrow in a nationally televised contest on ESPN. The Dodgers remained a game behind Colorado as the Rockies fell victim to the Houston juggernaut in a 16-8 loss at home behind two homers by Craig Biggio and another by Jeff Bagwell.

The Braves had their first sellout of 1995 to see Kent Mercker match up with with baseball's youngest starter, Ismael Valdez, and both teams went to work in the second. Eric Karros doubled to left, moved to third on a single by Roberto Kelly, and scored when Roberto Kelly's sacrifice fly to center was converted into a double play picking Kelly off first. Just when it appeared the Braves would get out of the jam trailing only 1-0, Tim Wallach hit a solo home run to give Valdez and the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. But the Braves got one run back almost immediately when David Justice hit a line drive home run to right that just cleared the wall and cut the lead in half. The two starters then matched each other pitch for pitch until the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Klesko ripped an opposite field home run to tie the game at two. In the eighth, Delino DeShields walked and then stole second after Jose Offerman flied out. Reliever Greg McMichael intentionally walked slugger Mike Piazza to set up the double play, and Clontz came into the game. The sidearm throwing rookie struck out Karros and then got Kelly to pop to short to end the threat. Dwight Smith led off the eighth with a walk and moved to second on Mordecai's bunt. After Marquis Grissom walked, Blauser got just enough of the ball to drop it behind second and in front of the outfielders to score Smith and give the Braves the lead. Wohlers then retired the side in order and the Braves had their fourth win in a row and a first place tie with Philly.

The Phillies had the seeming good fortune of facing a pitcher with 0 wins making his third big league start. In the top of the first, the Phils loaded the bases with one out and sent Darren Daulton to the plate. But rookie John Ericks struck out Daulton and got Charlie Hayes to ground out to end the inning. Ericks seemed to gain confidence from that close call, going seven innings and striking out eight Phillies en route to a 7-0 blowout that dropped Philadelphia into a first place tie with Atlanta. The Phils are slumping, dropping 7 of their last 8 and being shutout in 61 of their last 65 innings at bat. Manager Jim Fregosi said, "If you rested all the players that weren't hitting well, we wouldn't have a lineup." The Houston Astros, by contrast, aren't having any trouble scoring runs. The Astros have scored 96 runs in their last nine games - getting 11 or more four times - and have actually lost twice. They didn't lose tonight, banging out 16 runs that saw Jeff Bagwell hit a home run and drive in five runs while Craig Biggio drove in three on two home runs and scored a Houston record five runs as the Astros beat the Rockies, 16-8, at Coors Field. Mike Hampton lifted his record to 3-3 while Omar Olivares took the loss. Two former Braves, Ron Gant and Damon Berryhill, both slammed homers that drove in four runs that provided the difference as Cincinnati beat the Giants, 10-6, in San Francisco.Terry Mulholland returned from the DL for the Giants as the starter and took the loss to drop his record to 2-7. Pedro Martinez pitched a four-hitter and his second career shutout in Montreal's 5-0 win over the Cardinals thanks largely to a four-run, four-hit Expo rally in the bottom of the sixth off St Louis starter Ken Hill. Brian McRae had his best game of the year as he missed the cycle by failing to hit a single and scored all three runs in Chicago's 3-0 win over the Mets. Kevin Foster went eight innings to get the win for the Cubs, who won their season-high fourth game in a row, while Brett Saberhagen took the loss. Terry Pendleton's three RBIs helped the Marlins actually win a series at home for the first time in a full calendar year as Florida beat the Padres, 6-4. The two wins to start the series assures Florida wins the three-game series even should they lose tomorrow.

Mariano Rivera, who has spent the last three weeks at AAA Columbus after going only 15 innings in his four starts and getting shelled with five home runs and 18 earned runs and a 10.20 ERA, was recalled to Yankees' starting rotation today, and he earned his second big-league win with a masterpiece, giving up only two hits and no runs through eight before turning it over to closer John Wetteland in New York's 4-1 victory over the White Sox. Rivera struck out 11 and got offensive support from a solo shot by Paul O'Neill and three single runs of small ball plus a Chicago error. In the postgame press conference, Rivera said, "There is no doubt in my mind I can pitch here. They have to hit what I throw." White Sox Manager Terry Bevington was impressed with Rivera, saying, "If he pitches that way, he'll be in the big leagues a long time." The largest crowd to see a big league game this season - 61,292 - saw J.T. Snow drive in four runs and Roberto Alomar make his first error in 105 games, which paved the way for a five-run inning that helped the Angels blow out the Blue Jays, 14-0, in Anaheim and gave Chuck Finley his seventh win of the year. Alomar's error ends his chance to break Ryne Sandberg's record of 123 consecutive games at second base without an error. The Cleveland Indians came to bat trailing, 4-0, in the bottom of the fourth and three home runs later they went back out in the field with a 6-4 lead. But Texas rallied to take a 7-6 lead into the ninth and Albert Belle's attempt at a game-winning home run with Carlos Baerga at second came down in Otis Nixon's glove on the warning track. When Matt Whiteside then retired both Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, he had his first save of the year, and the Indians had their first one-run loss at home of 1995. The Tribe's three bombs in the fourth give them 100 for the season, far and away the most in the majors. Mark Gubicza took a 1-1 tie with Tim Wakefield into the eighth inning, but a five-run Red Sox rally capped by Jose Canseco's three-run shot after an intentional walk to Mo Vaughn lifted Boston to a 6-5 win over the Royals in Kansas City. KC did rally and had the winning run at bat, but Stan Belinda struck out Gary Gaetti with a runner aboard to save the game for Boston. Scott Erickson captured some of his past glory for one game as he gave up but three hits through eight innings as the Twins beat the Orioles, 6-3, in Baltimore. Closer Rick Aguilera did not have his best stuff, giving up four hits and two runs in a non-save situation. Both pitchers are rumored to be on the trading block as the deadline approaches. Trailing, 3-2, in the bottom of the eighth and two outs with a runner on, Mark McGwire was hit by a pitch, and Terry Steinbach saved the day with a three-run shot off of Mike Ignasiak to lift Oakland to a 5-3 win over Milwaukee. Dennis Eckersley got the save in his 500th appearance for the Athletics. Three more appearances, and he will surpass Rollie Fingers for the Oakland club record. And Detroit rallied with single runs in the eighth and ninth after a rain delay that saw them with a walkoff win when pinch-runner Joe Hall scored on a left-field single by John Flaherty to give the Tigers a 9-8 win over Seattle.

Cleveland may be recovering from the strike with their good baseball as tonight's game marked the 11th straight sellout of Jacobs Field, the 16th of the season. The woman charged with threatening to kill Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar will undergo a three-day psychiatric evaluation. Rafael Belliard has made only two errors in 161 games played since October 1, 1992, for the Braves. It is why despite his light-hitting, he remains the shortstop in one of the toughest infields in baseball. The Reds activated catcher Benito Santiago and optioned Craig Worthington to the minors.


Braves highlights begin at 0:46 in the video below.
Mariano Rivera highlights begin at 6:12.

 

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Four all beef patties, 6 feet under: the McCPR
July 5, 1995
Atlanta Braves 4 (W: Wohlers, 2-2)
Los Angeles Dodgers 1 (L: Astacio, 1-7)
39-25
1st place
1 game ahead

CHIPPER'S WALKOFF LIFTS BRAVES INTO SOLE POSSESSION OF FIRST


The Braves and Dodgers waited one day after July 4th to put on one of the best pitcher's duels of the season between veteran John Smoltz and rookie sensation Hideo Nomo, but it was a rookie on the Braves - third baseman Chipper Jones - who provided the fireworks. When the Dodgers pulled Pedro Astacio after he ran the count to Chipper to 2-0 with runners at first and second, it took only one Rudy Seanez pitch for Jones to end the game as he launched a three-run home run on a high fastball over the outside of the plate that bounced off of the Hooters sign behind the Fulton County Stadium right field wall for the win that sent 37,000 Braves fans scurrying for the exits excited that Atlanta now has sole possession of first place in the NL East division. Indeed, Chipper's shot was the only fireworks of the night. The rest of the game belonged to the starting pitchers.

The Braves had not yet faced the full rotation pause delivery of Hideo Nomo, and he baffled the Braves all evening. Atlanta only got two hits off of Nomo, and he rose to the occasion with the bases loaded in the seventh by getting slugger Fred McGriff to pop up to third to end the inning. Nomo was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the next half inning, but he left with the game tied at one after striking out ten Braves and getting victimized by three Dodger errors, including one of his own. But he pitched around and out of trouble, giving LA their best chance to win. The Braves got their first hit off of Nomo in the first. Marquis Grissom walked to lead off the game and then moved to third when Jeff Blauser singled. Grissom scored when Nomo threw a wild pitch to David Justice after he had retired both Jones and McGriff.

John Smoltz's performance is liable to be forgotten, largely because he has been pitching well in big games for years. Smoltz scattered nine hits while striking out 12, and it was only when the Dodgers strung together three hits in the same inning that Nomo himself scored the tying run on a single by Mike Piazza. And there wasn't much else to say about the game until the bottom of the ninth. Astacio got pinch-hitter Dwight Smith to pop out but then gave up a single to Jose Oliva. Mike Kelly then ran for Oliva and was thrown out trying to steal second. Grissom and Blauser followed with two-out singles, which brought Chipper to the plate and saw him deliver his July 5th fireworks. The Braves prevailed, 4-1, and are now all alone in first place.

That's because Philadelphia lost for the eighth time in nine games after racing out to a 3-0 lead before Tyler Green even took the mound. Pittsburgh edged their way back into the game, and with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, the Philly bullpen collapsed. With Jacob Brumfield on second, Norm Charlton replaced Green and walked Orlando Merced. After a repetitive sequence of announcing pinch-hitters and pitchers, Ricky Bottalico took the mound to face pinch-hitter Dave Clark, and Clark drilled a three-run homer that may have destroyed Philadelphia's season. When Jeff King singled and Al Martin homered, Philly had a 7-3 lead while Norm Charlton - who faced only one batter and walked him - wound up the losing pitcher thanks to Bottalico serving up two gopher balls. Philly scored a cosmetic run in the ninth to make 7-4 the final score. Jose Rijo threw five shutout innings on his limited work return, and Benito Santiago ripped two home runs as the Reds put a four-spot on the Giants in both the 7th and 8th innings for a 9-0 win in Cincinnati. A two-out RBI single by Bobby Bonilla in the ninth inning ended both the Mets' four-game skid and the Cubs' four-game winning streak, 5-4. Brett Butler raced across the plate from second with the winning run, easily beating Sammy Sosa's throw to the plate. Melvin Nieves slammed a two-run home run pinch homer and Phil Clark followed with a solo shot as the Padres pushed three runs across the plate in the tenth to beat the Marlins, 7-4, in Miami. Larry Walker's RBI single in the seventh broke a 2-2 tie and lifted Colorado to a 4-2 win that made Kevin Ritz a winner over Darryl Kile at Coors Field. Tripp Cromer singled off Sean Berry's glove in the tenth and Darnell Coles raced home from second to give St Louis a 4-3 win over Montreal in ten innings at Busch Stadium.

Brian Boehringer is clearly no Mariano Rivera. Called up to start for the Yankees - only his second career start and sixth apperance - Boehringer walked the first four batters he faced and then served up a grand slam to John Kruk, which put the Yankees into a 5-0 hole in the first inning. His start was in no way reminiscent of his opponent's second career start as Wilson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter in his second start in 1991. Alvarez was so-so today, giving up four runs but turning it over to Kirk McCaskill as the White Sox beat the Yankees, 11-5, and McCaskill got a save for the four innings he worked. And speaking of no-hitters in 1991, Dennis Martinez came close to his perfect game from that same season. He gave up only two infield singles and walked nobody in six innings as the Indians beat the Texas Rangers, 2-0, at Jacobs Field. Kevin Gross didn't pitch bad, but the Tribe got their runs thanks to consecutive walks to Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez with both runners racing home on Tony Pena's double. The game was delayed twice totaling over three hours by rain. Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Royals quickly tied the game on a single, a sacrifice, and a Gary Gaetti double but failed to score again thanks to bad baseball that included Gaetti getting picked off of third to end the inning. But then the Red Sox played their own brand of bad baseball, loading the bases with three walks (only one intentionally) and giving up a sacrifice fly that scored the winning run off the bat of Edgar Caceres. The Royals won, 3-2. Detroit swept Seattle with an 8-6 win in the finale, but it wasn't easy. Tino Martinez drove in five of Seattle's six runs on home runs. But Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit sacrifice fly was the insurance run in the eighth, and Mike Henneman nailed down his 16th save. Mike Trombley pitched six solid innings and got his first win in more than a year as the Twins beat the Orioles, 8-6. Darryl Hamilton doubled and tripled twice while B.J. Surhoff homered as the Brewers bashed the Athletics and All-Star pitcher Steve Ontiveros, 8-2. Milwaukee has won four of their last six games. Back-to-back home runs by Roberto Alomar, who had four hits, and Joe Carter as well as a later two-run shot by Shawn Green was enough to lift the Blue Jays to a 6-5 win over Shawn Boskie and the Angels.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have been looking for a new owner for over a year, now have loans totaling $60 million in debt due to operating expenditures that include the lack of revenue from the strike. The most recent bid of $85 million for the team was rejected because it had too little equity and too much deficit financing. The Florida Marlins have to pay the Fort Lauderdale Yankees $460,000 for relocation expenses as part of the agreement signed when Florida was awarded their franchise in June 1991. Hideo Nomo was selected Pitcher of the Month for June as he went 6-0 with an 0.89 ERA. Florida's Jeff Conine was the NL Player of the Month.

Greg Maddux faces Tom Candiotti tomorrow in the finale between Atlanta and Los Angeles.

The entire game between Nomo and Smoltz may be seen below. Chipper's walkoff may be seen at
2:34:32:

 
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Four all beef patties, 6 feet under: the McCPR
July 6, 1995
Atlanta Braves 1 (W: McMichael, 5-0)
Los Angeles Dodgers 0 (L: Seanez, 1-2)
40-25
1st place
1 game ahead

BRAVES WALKOFF DODGERS - AGAIN; TWINS TRADE AGUILERA IN DEVIOUS MOVE


Imagine if you told the Los Angeles Dodgers going into their three-game series with the Atlanta Braves that their starters wouldn't get a win, you'd get Kent Mercker in one game rather than one of the Big Four, Greg Maddux would be at less than 100% due to a strained groin muscle that may keep him out of next week's All-Star Game, Tom Candiotti would outpitch Maddux, and the Dodger starters would go 22 innings and give up only 4 runs. The Dodgers, no doubt, would figure odds were pretty high that at the very least they probably won the series, 2-1, at worst. As it turned out, Maddux with a groin injury is still better than your best pitcher, no matter who your best pitcher is.

The Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers at Fulton County Stadium tonight, and for the second straight night it was a walkoff win. Fred McGriff's final swing of the bat didn't have the sizzle of Chipper Jones's rocket to win game two of the series, but the play that ended the game did. McGriff pushed a single into right field just past a diving Delino DeShields, and it was a race between the arm of Raul Mondesi and Marquis Grissom for home plate. The ball got there slightly before Grissom, but it was in front of the plate, and the speedy outfielder dove past Mike Piazza and caught home plate with his hand to give the Braves a 1-0 win over the Dodgers in what may prove to be a prelude to the National League playoffs this October.

It was not by any means a boring 1-0 baseball game. Maddux gave up only five hits in eight innings on the mound, and he retired three of those with double plays, two off the bat of Tim Wallach. He also - once again - didn't walk a single batter, stretching his streak of innings without a walk to 49 while striking out six. Dodger starter Tom Candiotti is likely to remember this game when sharing memories with his grandchildren about "the time I outpitched Greg Maddux," even if he leaves out how the game ended. And Candiotti DID outpitch Maddux, walking none, striking out five, and allowing only three hits in eight innings. The only batter to reach second base against Candiotti was Ryan Klesko - who got there by stealing his second base of the year following his single that broke up Candiotti's perfect game with two outs in the fifth. But in the end, Atlanta was one swing of the bat better than Los Angeles. And in a delicious irony, Rudy Seanez, who saddled Pedro Astacio with last night's loss when he gave up a one-pitch bomb to Jones, got the loss himself after intentionally walking Jones to bring McGriff to the plate and getting pulled for John Cummings, who gave up the game-winning hit. The win leaves Atlanta in first place alone in the NL East with the second-best record in the NL.

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The team with the best record, though, is the Cincinnati Reds, and they had a 5-4 lead at home with their closer, Jeff Brantley, on the mound. But Brantley surrendered singles to Darren Lewis and Glenallen Hill - and then a game-losing home run to Barry Bonds, who just cleared the wall for his 15th homer. Though the Reds got one last chance to win it, Rod Beck retired the side, giving up just a single to Ron Gant in San Francisco's 7-5 victory. An unlikely three-run home run by lefty David West (see 5:24 below) and four Pittsburgh wild pitches ended Philly's five-game losing streak and avoided a sweep by the Pirates, 10-5, to keep pace with the Braves. Brian McRae homered leading off the game against Pete Harnisch, and the Cubs turned four Mets errors into six unearned runs in an 8-4 win that also saw the Cubs themselves make three errors. Trailing by two with two outs in the ninth, James Mouton singled and scored on Craig Biggio's double to cut the San Diego lead to one. Jeff Bagwell then grounded to shortstop in what appeared to be the final out of the game, but a throwing error by Andujar Cedeno that pulled first baseman Roberto Petagine off the bag enabled Biggio to race home and tie the game at four. Catcher Jerry Goff, making his Astros (but not MLB) debut, ripped a seeming game-winning single to center, but because Milt Thompson was forced at second on the throw before the run scored, Goff is not credited with a game-winning RBI (or even a hit), although the Astros did win, 5-4. Montreal took a 6-3 lead into the house of horrors known as Coors Field, but they gave up two runs in the bottom of the fifth and four more in the sixth to give the Rockies a 9-6 win. Andres Galarraga hit his 17th home run. The Cardinals appeared to beat the Marlins in the bottom of the tenth on a Ray Lankford walkoff home run, but Jeff Conine reached above the wall and caught it to save the day temporarily. In the 12th, Brian Jordan's single scored Jose Oquendo to give St Louis a 3-2 win at Busch in a game that saw Tom Pagnozzi hit his first home run of the year.

Don't look now, but the Detroit Tigers are only three games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East. Despite making three errors, the Tigers drilled three home runs and put together two five-run innings to blow out Kansas City, 12-3. The Red Sox slammed four home runs off Twins starter Brad Radke but still lost, 6-4, in the Metrodome. Boston did, however, take something more precious to the Twins; during the game, the Twins traded closer Rick Aguilera to the Red Sox for Frankie Rodriguez and a player to be named later. The impetus behind the trade was the timing; at midnight, Aguilera was to become a "10 and 5" player (ten years in MLB, five with the same team), which would have meant Aguilera had to approve of any trade made. If you want to know why the major league players do not trust the owners at all, look no further than the case with Aguilera. Trading him was not the issue as the Twins have the worst record in baseball and at least need to be able to get something for him, but this was not the best public relations move ever made, either. Aguilera's pain may be less than some think as he's going from the worst team in baseball to one with the potential to make the World Series this year. And Boston needs a closer badly; their bullpen has a record of 12-13 with 14 saves and a 5.40 ERA. Aguilera improves their chances immensely. The trade of their closer leaves only six Minnesota Twins still on the team that beat the Braves in the 1991 World Series (Kirby Puckett, Chuck Knoblauch, Pedro Munoz, Scott Erickson, Kevin Tapani, Scott Leius). Chad Ogea is having a great rookie year, and tonight he pitched his first complete game. Ogea tossed a three-hitter and retired the last 17 batters in a row in Cleveland's 8-1 rout of Seattle that saw Manny Ramirez go deep twice and drive in a season-high five runs. Kevin Bass, pinch-hitting for Harold Baines, hit a run-scoring single in the top of the eighth that lifted Baltimore to a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. The hit scored Manny Alexander, but embarrassment also occurred on the basepaths when legend Cal Ripken overran second and was thrown out to prevent a further rally. In true legendary form, Ripken made a diving catch to help preserve the lead in the bottom of the inning. Jamie Moyer got his third straight win while Doug Jones notched his 13th save. Juan Gonzalez and Mickey Tettleton hit back-to-back home runs in the first - the 150th of Juan's career - and Pudge Rodriguez added a later one as the Rangers beat the Yankees, 5-2, in New York Manager Buck Showalter's 500th game as Yankee manager. No Yankee manager has managed 500 games uninterrupted as field general since Ralph Houk ran the team from 1966 until George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973. It's probably no accident that Showalter's tenure began while Steinbrenner was suspended for life from baseball and has continued largely on the basis of New York having the best record in the AL last year. Rest assured, anything less than the World Series this year, and Showalter will be shown the door like every other Yankee manager of the past 22 years. The Toronto Blue Jays have the second-worst pitching staff in baseball behind the Twins; it's hard to believe that just four years ago these two teams played in the ALCS against each other. Toronto is just throwing names out on the mound anymore, and their good pitchers aren't getting much support. The Angels rode a seven-run third inning to a 10-1 win over the Blue Jays and Al Leiter. And rookie Scott Karl won his first major league start with a 5-2 win over the Athletics in Oakland thanks largely to a four-run inning that occurred on the heels of an ejection of Oakland Manager Tony LaRussa.

Astros outfielder Brian Hunter will miss at least two weeks with a broken right hand. Jeff Kent has also been placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Mets due to a bruised shoulder. The Cubs released third baseman Steve Buechele.

The San Francisco Giants come to town for a three-game series with the Braves that will take the team into the All-Star break.

Game 1: Tom Glavine vs Joe Rosseli
Game 2: Steve Avery vs Mark Portugal
Game 3: Kent Mercker vs Terry Mulholland




Braves highlights begin at 4:02 below:
 
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