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Braves Avoid Pirates Sweep


This was one of the few times the Atlanta Braves left Pittsburgh happy despite winning only once in a three-game series.

Keith Lockhart's three-run, pinch-hit double broke an eighth-inning tie and the Braves rallied to beat the Pirates 6-3 Thursday night by scoring the final five runs.

"It's a big relief," Brian Jordan of the Braves said. "Keith Lockhart got a big hit and I hope it gets us going."

The Braves, who had lost 11 of 17, avoided being swept in Three Rivers Stadium for the first time since May 1994 and closed to within 1 1/2 games of the idle New York Mets in the NL East. Atlanta fell out of a first-place tie by losing Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Game Summary

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  • "We haven't had a lot of offense lately, so we knew it had to turn it around sometime," Lockhart said. "I'm glad it was tonight. We have to turn it up a little more now."

    Earlier in the evening, Mark McGwire's 500th homer hit in St. Louis was shown on the video scoreboard and met with mixed cheers and boos from the crowd of 19,078.

    McGwire and the Cardinals begin a four-game series Friday in Pittsburgh and many fans had hoped to see him hit his 500th. The Pirates have a big advance sale for both Friday's doubleheader and Saturday night's game.

    Atlanta trailed 3-1 before tying it with two runs against Pete Schourek in the seventh, then went ahead in the eighth against Greg Hansell (1-2).

    Mike Remlinger (3-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for the victory. John Rocker finished up in the ninth for his 22nd save.

    "I don't think it's that we haven't been hitting, it's that we saw some really good pitching here," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who sat out the second game of a two-game suspension.

    In the eighth, Hansell walked Chipper Jones with one out and Brian Jordan singled. Andruw Jones grounded out for the second out, but Jose Hernandez walked ahead of Lockhart's bases-clearing double into the gap in right-center on a 3-2 pitch.

    Lockhart has a .294 lifetime average as a pinch-hitter and has eight pinch-hit RBIs this season.

    "You're a lot better off when it's 3-2 because the guys are running," Lockhart said. "It really limits their options if you hit a ball in the hole. This is huge for us. We've been struggling lately and, pinch-hitting, you don't get a lot of these opportunities, so this feels really good."

    Pirates manager Gene Lamont stayed with the right-handed Hansell against the left-handed Lockhart because left-hander Scott Sauerbeck wasn't available. Sauerbeck's wife had a baby earlier in the day.

    "If we had a left-hander, I probably would have used him because they were down to left-handers coming off the bench," Lamont said.

    Schourek, who has given the Pirates only three victories for their $4 million investment, was lifted after giving up three consecutive hits to start the seventh Jones' double and singles by Hernandez and Brian Hunter. Hansell gave up Ryan Klesko's sacrifice fly.

    With left-hander Tom Glavine starting for Atlanta, the Pirates rested the left-handed hitting Brian Giles, Al Martin, Brant Brown and Warren Morris and started four right-handed hitters who were in the minors earlier this season.

    Despite starting only two regulars, third baseman Ed Sprague and first baseman Kevin Young, the Pirates opened their lead on Young's RBI double in the first, Abraham Nunez's RBI single in the fifth and Freddy Garcia's solo homer in the sixth.

    "When you have a chance to sweep, you need to do it," Schourek said.

    But the Pirates couldn't do it, wasting a couple of good scoring chances by stranding runners at second and third with one out in the first and with two out in the fifth.

    "If I don't make those pitches, it could have gotten out of hand," Glavine said.

    Glavine, 17-9 lifetime and 3-0 the last two seasons against the Pirates, yielded three runs and seven hits and struck out eight over six innings.

    Notes

  • Hank Aaron threw out the first pitch. A pregame ceremony celebrated the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record.
  • The Braves have lost nine of 13 road games.
  • Pirates rookie left-hander Jimmy Anderson will make his first major league start in the first game Friday against St. Louis.
  • The Pirates, who had won four in a row, stranded eight after setting an NL record by leaving only one on base in the first two games of the series.
  • The game lasted 2:51, or more than an hour longer than Wednesday's 1:48 the shortest game in the majors this season.
  • Giles sat out with a sore right shoulder, but hopes to play Friday.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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