ATLANTA - It's ironic that 10 years after making his major league debut and taking a loss in Houston, Tom Glavine faces the Astros in Game 2 of the division series this afternoon.
For several years after his debut, the left-hander had little success against the Astros, losing his first eight decisions in the Astrodome. That slowly began to change as Glavine grew older and wiser.
He's won his last six decisions in Houston, went 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in four starts against the Astros this season and hasn't lost to them since June 4, 1995.
"Probably the biggest difference is early in my career I was hoping to go out and pitch a good game," Glavine said. "Now that hope has turned to expectation. Since '91 when I started to win games my confidence has grown. The success goes hand-in-hand with your confidence. It makes it easier to know what your game plan is and trust the fact that you can go out there and do it."
Glavine has done some of his best work in the last two division series, compiling a 1-0 record and 1.98 ERA in two starts against the Rockies and Dodgers.
"He's always been a money pitcher," manager Bobby Cox said. "He'll be on his game tomorrow."
ON A HIGH: Noting that tickets were still available before Game 1 and that Game 2 is not sold out, Glavine said, "It says that expectations are that we'll be in the World Series. Expectations around this team are so high we've become used to it. The key is that we don't get caught up in it."
While shrugging off fans' casual approach to playoff games, Glavine warned, "Sooner or later this run of success is going to end and people are going to stop taking for granted that the Atlanta Braves are going to be in the World Series. We understand that. We realize that."
FIRST-TIMERS: Two men who have been around the game a long time, one a player and the other a coach, shared their thoughts Tuesday on reaching the postseason for the first time.
Second baseman Keith Lockhart spent nine-plus seasons in the minors before reaching the big leagues with the Royals in 1995. Traded to the Braves in late March, he was the club's best pinch hitter and will platoon at second with Tony Graffanino during the first round.
"It's something I always dreamed of," Lockhart said. "I never thought I'd break in and play every day, like I did in Kansas City, then get traded to a caliber team like this one. It's kind of mind-boggling. I'm just going to try to enjoy it and try not to get too caught up in all that's going on."
Third base coach Bobby Dews spent 10 years in the minors as a player, then was a minor league manager from 1969-84. He finally reached the majors as a bullpen coach for Bobby Cox in 1979, then served as a third base coach in 1980-81 and was a first base coach for Eddie Haas and Bobby Wine in 1985.
Twelve years later, he reflected on his first trip to the playoffs.
"It's the greatest feeling I've had in baseball so far," Dews said. "I felt like I was part of it when our minor leaguers got here, but it's tremendous to be involved."
HERE AND THERE: Tuesday's win was Cox's 39th victory in postseason play, the most wins by any manager. Cox has a 39-32 record. Casey Stengel compiled a 37-26 mark and Sparky Anderson was 34-21.
"Early in the game the sun is the left fielder's problem," Lofton said. "The middle of the game it's my problem and late in the game it's the right fielder's problem."
"There's an extra catcher down there and there was no reason not to use him and get everybody up for every type of situation," Cox said. "Anything could have happened in that ninth inning."