Originally created 08/31/97

Braves pound Beantown

BOSTON -- Ask the Atlanta Braves whether they want to return to their regular uniforms and the answer would be unanimous.

No thanks, we'll stay with the 1912 models, baggy pants, red socks, gray caps and all.

Wearing the uniforms with the red-scripted BOSTON across their shirts, the Braves have stirred memories and made Beantown feel like home again.

The nostalgia continued at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, where Fred McGriff made like Eddie Mathews and Kevin Millwood impersonated Johnny Sain.

By the time the shell-shocked Red Sox staggered back to their clubhouse, the Braves had reached back through the years to the days when they regularly mashed the ball and posted a 15-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 32,865 fans.

After watching the Braves clobber the Red Sox staff with 35 hits and 24 runs in two days, the fans here are thinking the wrong team left Boston.

"The offense was due to break out," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "It was only a matter of time before guys started to swing the bats better. The last two days everyone started doing it at the same time."

The thunder reverberated throughout the lineup, beginning with McGriff, who had four hits, including a pair of two-run homers, and drove in five runs. It continued with Ryan Klesko, who had three hits, including his 20th home run, and three RBI, and Jones, who reached base five times with three hits and a pair of walks and scored a career-high five runs.

Then, there was Javy Lopez with a pair of doubles and two RBI, Michael Tucker with three hits and Greg Colbrunn with a pair of RBI.

"Last night we were in the game for four innings and thought we had a chance," Red Sox designated hitter Reggie Jefferson said. "Today we spotted them nine runs and you just can't do that against the Atlanta Braves. They're just too good."

Millwood (3-3) never allowed the Red Sox to harbor thoughts of a comeback. The rookie right-hander retired the first 10 men he faced, didn't allow a hit until the fourth and departed after seven innings having yielded six hits and both runs.

Along the way, Millwood got Nomar Garciaparra three times, then rookie Mike Cather forced a soft fly from him in the eighth inning, ending the rookie shortstop's hitting streak at 30 games.

"If I walked him I was afraid there would be another Boston Massacre," Cather said.

No, the massacre had already occurred, starting with the Braves' ambush of Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield (9-15). The knuckleballer lasted only 3Š innings and was ripped for eight hits and seven runs, then the Braves clobbered reliever John Wasdin with seven hits and six runs in 31/3 innings.

By the time shadows began crossing the infield, the Braves had 19 hits, their most since July 3, and had tied their season-high with 15 runs. McGriff was responsible for four runs with his first two swings, hitting Wakefield's first pitch in the first inning, then his first pitch in the third for his 19th and 20th home runs.

McGriff's four hits boosted his career average at Fenway to .431 and upped his homer total to six, along with 18 RBI. Along with Friday night's home run, it marked the first time McGriff has homered in consecutive games since June 10-11 last year.

"All year long I've been trying to make changes and the last few days it's been working," he said. "Fenway is a good offensive ballpark. You usually see some wild games here."

The two days at Fenway have aroused McGriff and Klesko from their August funk. The pair are 12-for-18 with 10 RBI and wishing they could extend their stay for several weeks.

"They're very important to our club," manager Bobby Cox said. "You want everybody hitting, but those are our big guys and it makes it easier to win when both are hitting at the same time."

If they continue hitting like this, the Braves may not leave Boston again.


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