Originally created 05/31/97

Tucker single lifts Braves over Giants in the ninth



ATLANTA - A club that has lived by the home run for years has developed a split personality.

The home runs still appear occasionally, but runs are arriving by other means.

Take Friday night for example.

Having blown a 2-0 lead in a second straight game, the Braves rallied in the ninth inning the old-fashioned way. Kenny Lofton walked, stole second and scored the winning run on Michael Tucker's single into the right field corner, lifting the Braves to a 3-2 victory over the Giants in front of a crowd of 45,181 fans at Turner Field.

"Just trying to contribute a little bit," Tucker said. "When the team is going well you tend to get caught up in the way things are going."

The victory, the Braves' eighth in their last at-bat this year, came with a price. Catcher Javier Lopez took a foul tip off Jose Vizcaino's bat on the back of his right hand in the third inning and left the game. X-rays were negative, though Lopez may miss a game or two. Backup catcher Eddie Perez made sure no one missed Lopez by tying his career-high with three hits.

Tom Glavine didn't have his best stuff, but he battled through seven innings, yielding three hits and a season-high five walks. He left the bases loaded in the second inning, then did the same in the sixth after the Giants tied the game with a pair of runs.

Glavine has started only three times since May 8 and has made consecutive starts on an extra day's rest, and the rustiness showed. He got into trouble in the sixth when he issued a one-out walk to Jose Vizcaino and Barry Bonds followed with a double. Ryan Klesko fumbled it in left field, allowing Vizcaino to score, and Jeff Kent delivered a run-scoring single for a second run.

Glavine departed after making 132 pitches, the most by a Braves starter this season, and when a rally fizzled in the seventh inning he was saddled with his third no-decision.

"The bottom line is I gave the team a chance to win," Glavine said. "I threw well enough to win. Somewhere down the road I'll win a game I probably shouldn't win."

Atlanta's bullpen offered a thrill a minute in the eighth inning. Relievers Alan Embree and Mike Bielecki combined to load the bases with one out, then Bielecki struck out J.T. Snow and forced a fly from pinch hitter Darryl Hamilton to end the threat.

Mark Wohlers (2-0) picked up the win by pitching a hitless ninth inning.

Given plenty of opportunities to score, the Braves passed on each one and stranded 10 men on base. Their only runs before the ninth came off Klesko's bat, his first home run at Turner Field, in the fourth.

Klesko introduced himself to Giants starter Keith Foulke with a drive deep into the right field stands with Chipper Jones on base. That ended a stretch of 67 at-bats over 26 games at home without a homer for the left fielder, who has hit seven on the road.

That was it until the ninth, when reliever Doug Henry (2-1) got ahead of Lofton with two strikes, then threw four straight balls. Lofton, who was picked off second base to help a rally fizzle in the seventh inning, redeemed himself. With Tucker swinging at a high pitch and lunging across the plate, he stole second, then scored when Tucker drove a 2-and-2 pitch over Snow's leap at first base.

"You keep on being aggressive," Lofton said. "You can't shy away from being aggressive if something goes wrong."

With almost one-third of the season completed, little has gone wrong for these Braves.