Originally created 05/14/98

Braves tie major league mark



ST. LOUIS -- The Atlanta Braves came to Mark McGwire's playground, where batting practice long balls draw oohs and aahs, to launch their record homer.

Atlanta set an NL record and tied a major league mark when they homered in their 25th straight game, doing it Wednesday night when Ryan Klesko hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning of a 10-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"We really just go out and play and hopefully somebody will do it," Klesko said. "So many guys in this lineup have so much power, we're not really worried about it."

The Braves, the 1941 New York Yankees and 1994 Detroit Tigers are the only teams in history to homer in 25 consecutive games. Atlanta, which started the streak on April 18, entered the night tied with the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the NL record.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said the record is nothing but a conversation piece for a team off to a franchise-best 29-11 start.

"The wins are the big thing," Cox said. "The home runs, who really cares?

"But it's good for baseball to have something to talk about."

McGwire, second in the NL in homers with 14 and one behind Atlanta's Andres Galarraga, served as the warmup act. In batting practice, he hit two off the facade in center field and one into the upper deck in center, but in the game he was 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts.

Homers "are not overrated in his case, anyway," Cox said. "People will drive hundreds of miles to see Mark McGwire take batting practice."

Atlanta, which has won five in a row and nine of 10, can break the record on Thursday against Cardinals starter Mark Petkovsek.

Atlanta has hit 45 homers during the streak: 10 by Galarraga, eight each by Javy Lopez and Michael Tucker, seven by Andruw Jones, five by Chipper Jones, three by Klesko and Keith Lockhart, and one by Tony Graffanino. They lead the majors with 65 home runs in 40 games.

"I've hit a few," Klesko said. "I haven't hit 15 like Galarraga, but it's not like it's my first one."

The Braves waited until the eighth inning to tie the record on Tuesday on a homer by Galarraga.

Atlanta had a couple of close calls in the early innings. Klesko hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center in a six-run third that chased rookie Cliff Politte (2-3). Michael Tucker flied out to the warning track in center in the fourth.

Chipper Jones walked to lead off the sixth and Galarraga struck out before Klesko hit an 0-1 pitch from reliever John Frascatore over the right-field wall for his sixth homer, giving the Braves a 10-2 lead.

Tom Glavine (5-2), who allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, is accustomed to such support. The Braves have scored 55 runs in his first eight starts.

Glavine, who retired 10 in a row from the fourth through seventh innings, struck out six and walked two. He's been amazed by the homer streak.

"Hopefully, it'll last the rest of the year," Glavine said. "I doubt it, but it sure would be nice."

Politte, a former 54th-round draft pick who made the Cardinals with a 4-1 record and 1.10 ERA in spring training, had another miserable outing. In his last five starts, he's allowed 23 runs and 33 hits in 20 1-3 innings.

Politte also killed a potential rally in the second when he missed a squeeze sign and Eli Marrero was caught in a rundown.

"I'm discouraged and very frustrated," Polite said. "I stink right now."

Delino DeShields had an RBI single in the second and Ron Gant hit his seventh homer in the fourth for the Cardinals, whose seven-game home winning streak came to an end.

Notes: Glavine and Mike Cather retired 16 of the last 17 Cardinals. ... The Braves entered the night with 22 more home runs than the Cardinals and Colorado Rockies, who were tied for second, and are averaging 6.4 runs in their last 29 games. ... Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, in town for his team's playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, attended the game. ... The Braves are 9-3 against the Cardinals the last two seasons. ... Royce Clayton was hitless in three at-bats against Glavine and is 3-for-29 for his career against the left-hander. ... Lopez had RBI singles in the first and third and was 3-for-5. ... During the home run streak, the Braves have homered once in 11 games. They hit six home runs on April 19.