Originally created 04/24/98

Glavine dominates Diamondbacks



ATLANTA -- It's not like we haven't seen Tom Glavine create April perfection before.

He hasn't lost a decision during the first month of the season in two years, a stretch of precision that reached eight Thursday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Working in temperatures that reminded him of his native New England, the Atlanta Braves left-hander sent the 33,013 bundled fans at Turner Field home happy with another dominating performance.

Boosting his record to 3-0, Glavine gave up one run in seven innings and the Braves solidified their hold on first place with their eighth win in nine games, this one by a 3-1 score over the Diamondbacks.

"I do all my crappy pitching in spring training and get it out of the way," Glavine said. "I don't know what the deal is. There's no secret formula or I'd use it in May, June, July, August, September and October. April has been a good month for me."

Kerry Ligtenberg and Mark Wohlers backed up Glavine with two shutout innings, though Wohlers turned the ninth inning into another hair-raising adventure. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, allowed a walk and a single, then struck out pinch hitter Karim Garcia to collect his sixth save.

"I got by, I got lucky," Wohlers said. "I've got six saves and once I went 1-2-3 and the rest of the time I flirted with danger. A couple of years ago I don't know if Bobby (Cox) would have been as patient with me."

Atlanta's first two hitters, Walt Weiss and Keith Lockhart, produced a 1-0 lead against Arizona starter Willie Blair (0-4) with consecutive two-out doubles in the third inning. The importance of the pair is becoming more evident every day. With either one missing from the lineup during the first two weeks of the season, the offense didn't click. With them in the lineup together, the Braves are 8-0.

"Those guys are doing a phenomenal job, especially Walt," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "He's working the count, taking walks, taking his singles and doubles and letting the rest of us go to work."

Jones was held without a hit for a second straight game, but it didn't matter on a night when Glavine needed only two runs. Michael Tucker delivered a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, then Andres Galarraga, a career .364 hitter against Blair, belted his eight homer in the sixth.

Glavine, 8-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last 12 April starts, read the scouting reports, watched John Smoltz work against the Diamondbacks Wednesday night, then went out and followed his own game plan.

It's familiar to every National League hitter -- fastballs and changeups away -- and still they can't hit him.

"I'm probably least affected by facing a new team because my game plan doesn't change," Glavine said. "I'm going to do what I do regardless of what a scouting report says."

So, he kept changing speeds and Arizona's hitters, off-balance and uncomfortable at the plate, kept chopping his pitches into the infield grass. Glavine didn't give up a hit until Devon White's one-out single in the third and allowed one man to advance past first base in five innings.

That streak, as well as Glavine's streak of not allowing an earned run in three starts, ended in the sixth. Matt Williams' two-out double and Travis Lee's single cut Atlanta's lead in half and ended the left-hander's perfection at 20 innings.

"I'm going to go out and pitch my game until they show me I can't do it," Glavine said.

For two years no team has accepted his April challenge.