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Braves Break Out In Ninth Inning

OK, so maybe it didn't have the drama or significance of that ninth-inning comeback against Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the 1992 NL championship series.

This was only a regular-season game, hardly make-or-break for a team that is running away in the NL East.

Still, the Atlanta Braves will long remember Monday night, when they rallied for six runs in the ninth inning and a stunning 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

"For all intents and purposes, it was over," said Tom Glavine, who was in the shower expecting to take a loss when the improbable comeback began. "Anyone who tells you they thought we would score six runs is a liar, but that's why you have 27 outs. You don't know what's going to happen."

Everything was in Boston's favor going to the bottom of the ninth. They had just scored two runs to build a seemingly insurmountable lead. They had one of baseball's top relievers, Tom Gordon, on the mound. Most of the big crowd at Turner Field had already departed.

But the Red Sox managed to get only one of the three outs they needed, and that came on a sacrifice bunt after the Braves scored five runs to tie it up. Andruw Jones then singled against John Wasdin (3-3), bringing home pinch-runner Gerald Williams with the winning run.

"You go into the ninth inning with a five-run lead, you expect to win," Boston's Damon Buford said. "If we go into the ninth inning tomorrow with a five-run lead, we'll expect to win again."

Gordon, who had 19 saves and a 1.10 ERA, walked the first two hitters in the ninth and was removed after Keith Lockhart and Chipper Jones hit run-scoring singles to make it 6-3. Wasdin gave up a two-run double to Andres Galarraga to pull the Braves within a run.

"I had Galarraga right where I wanted him," Wasdin said, "then he goes out and tattoos it. If I get him out, it changes everything."

Ryan Klesko followed with a bloop single that scored pinch-runner Danny Bautista with the tying run before the Red Sox finally got an out Javy Lopez's sacrifice bunt that moved Williams to second.

Michael Tucker was walked intentionally and Andruw Jones followed with a single on an 0-2 pitch, the ball skipping by Nomar Garciaparra's desperate lunge at short. A sliding Williams beat Troy O'Leary's high throw to the plate, and what was left of the crowd erupted in celebration.

"I was all ready to go home and sleep by myself," Chipper Jones said. "My wife doesn't like being around me after losses."

The ninth-inning disaster ruined a strong start by Boston's Derek Lowe, who was 0-5 with a 7.46 ERA in his first six starts. He allowed just five hits and a run in six innings.

After giving up a run in the first, Lowe's only serious trouble came in the fifth when he walked thbases loaded with two outs before getting Klesko on a pop-out to third.

But Gordon, who failed to get an out and was charged with four runs, saw his ERA climb to 2.20 in the matter of minutes. Alan Embree (1-0) picked up the win, despite allowing four hits and two runs in the ninth.

Jason Varitek, a college star with Garciaparra at nearby Georgia Tech, drove in two runs for the Red Sox, as did John Valentin. But it wasn't enough.

Boston dropped to 0-4 against Atlanta since the start of interleague play. Last season, the Braves outscored the Red Sox 31-6 in a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.

The first regular-season trip to Atlanta by the Red Sox drew a crowd of 44,018, the largest weekday turnout at Turner Field this season.

Glavine failed in his bid to join teammate Greg Maddux as the NL's second nine-game winner. The left-hander allowed eight hits and walked four before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter, trailing 4-1 after six innings.

"It's one of those games where obviously I didn't feel great about the way I pitched," Glavine said. "But I feel a heck of a lot better now."

Notes: Varitek and Garciaparra weren't the only one in the Boston dugout with Atlanta connections. Manager Jimy Williams is a former Braves coach, while Mark Lemke and Steve Avery played for the Braves. ... Before the game, Atlanta pitcher Maddux was named NL co-player of the week along with Chicago's Sammy Sosa. ... Galarraga has 23 homers, one short of Klesko's 1997 total that led the Braves, and just missed his 24th in the seventh when he flew out to the wall in center. ... The Braves are 3-1 in interleague play, the Red Sox 1-3.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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