The Braves finished off the sweep with a remarkable game played through steady rain. Mike Hampton took a no-hitter to the sixth, but walked the pitcher leading off the inning, who scored on a triple. The Cards added another run, but the Braves rallied back to tie it in the bottom of the inning. St. Louis got a run in the seventh against Gryboski.
The Braves had runners on all night long. They had fifteen hits, at least one in every inning, but thirteen were singles, and actually left runners in scoring position in every inning but the seventh. They just couldn’t get runs home. But in the ninth, Furcal singled. Marcus Giles bunted for the third time, marking one of the very rare occasions that a man hitting .358 with a .597 slugging percentage will do that. Steve Kline semi-intentionally walked Sheffield to pitch to Chipper, but Chipper walked as well to load the bases. Tony Larussa, certified managerial genius, then brought in Cal Eldred (ERA: 7.04) to pitch to Andruw, who singled home two runs to end the game. (Actually, the hit would have been a double under any other circumstances.)
Ray King got the win for an inning of scoreless relief; Darren Holmes also had a good inning. Hampton’s outing was especially promising, though. He did walk four with only one strikeout, but he was effective and more than gave the Braves a good start.
Furcal had four hits and is now hitting .323. He’s still miscast as a leadoff hitter, but he’s producing. The Braves got two hits apiece from each Franco (Julio replaced Matt in the middle innings), from Castilla and from Estrada. It’s very hard to figure out how the 6-8 hitters can go 8-11 with a walk (by Vinny; actually, the only time he made an out I thought should have been a walk as well) and you still only score four runs.
The Braves now host Milwaukee for three. Don Sutton and Joe Simpson tried last night to pretend that the Brewers were playing well; in fact, they are 7-14, have lost their last three, and have been outscored by 38 runs this year. Actually, for the Brewers, that’s normal. At least Dud won’t seek another term as commissioner.