Originally created 09/14/96

Greg Maddux: Cy Young winner sees pair of leads disappear



NEW YORK - While a team meeting cleared the air, it had no effect on a miserable September for the Atlanta Braves.

Two time zones removed from a disastrous series among the Rockies, the Braves did nothing to turn around a troublesome slide Friday night.

Continuing baseball's version of a Slim Fast program - seven games shaved off in 14 days - the Braves failed to execute the fundamentals against the New York Mets and extended their skid to five straight losses.

This time it was a 6-4 defeat to the fourth-place Mets before a crowd of 17,331 at Shea Stadium, the Braves' 10th loss in 12 games and their 26th one-run defeat of the season.

With 16 games remaining, Atlanta's division lead stands at 5« games, its skinniest since a six-game advantage on July 12.

"Everything that could possibly happen, has happened," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "That's the way it's going."

Losers of nine straight road games and 2-9 this month, the Braves gave Greg Maddux a pair of leads and watched each disappear within minutes. The four-time Cy Young winner, 0-2 against the Mets this season, went six innings and allowed nine hits and four runs.

Following a rain delay of 53 minutes in the eighth inning, Mets rookie shortstop Rey Ordonez bounced an RBI double down the left field line against reliever Joe Borowski (2-3) to send the go-ahead run across the plate.

"We played better baseball tonight," Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton said. "But they got the two-out hits and we didn't."

A team that promised to pay attention to details during a meeting Thursday passed on a scoring opportunity in the third inning. Marquis Grissom led with a double, but never moved off second base as Pendleton failed to advance him, Fred McGriff flied out and Ryan Klesko went down swinging.

Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, the Braves tied the game on Mark Lemke's fielder's choice grounder, scoring pinch runner Jeff Blauser, but blew a chance to take a lead. Grissom, who had three hits in four at-bats, showed no patience at the plate against reliever Jerry DiPoto. With the bases loaded, he swung at the first pitch and grounded into a bases-loaded double play to end the rally.

The Braves have seemingly given away more leads this month than in the previous five months combined. That trend continued early in the game when Maddux, given a 1-0 lead on McGriff's RBI two-out single in the first, handed it over in the bottom of the inning.

Consecutive doubles by Jason Hardtke and Bernard Gilkey tied the score, then a pair of singles and Ordonez's grounder produced a 2-1 lead the next inning.

Maddux was given a 3-2 advantage in the fifth when Pendleton snapped an 0-for-16 skid with his 11th homer, a two-run shot over the right field wall.

Staying true to form, the Braves watched the lead vanish in the bottom half of the inning.

Mets pitcher Robert Person led with his first major league double and Gilkey's third hit of the game, another double, scored Person with the tying run.

The Braves, who scored 21 runs in three games in Denver and emerged winless, didn't mount much of an attack against Person. He struck out seven in six innings and following Pendleton's homer he allowed one runner to advance past first base.

Presented with a final opportunity to tie the game in the ninth, the Braves watched Klesko and pinch hitter Mike Mordecai strike out with runners on second and third to end it.

"This is stuff you've got to battle through," Pendleton said. "It can turn right around real fast."