Originally created 07/12/98

Errors lead to Braves' loss



MIAMI -- If there was some doubt whether Greg Maddux was human, there is no question now.

Sure, he's headed for the Hall of Fame and he's being compared with some of the game's best pitchers. But can he field his position?

Nope. At least he couldn't Saturday night and it kept him from taking his 13th win.

Maddux kept Florida in the game with a pair of throwing errors, then yielded a pair of untainted runs in the eighth inning as the Marlins played giant-killer in a second straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves in front of 36,795 fans at Pro Player Stadium.

How to explain baseball's worst-hitting team beating the game's best pitcher, who just happened to be riding a 10-game win streak? Let's start with some sloppy defense, move onto some equally inept hitting with men on base and throw in two bad changeups from Maddux (12-3) and you have a result that caused Florida reliever Matt Mantei to say, "Beating the Braves gets you on a high, no matter who's pitching ... but especially beating them on Maddux night."

Maddux, 16-0 in his last 21 road starts and unbeaten since April 26, gave up an unearned run in the first inning, tainted by his own throwing error on Mark Kotsay's bunt, then didn't allow a runner past first base until the fourth. Kotsay opened with a double and when Maddux fielded Cliff Floyd's bouncer and pulled Andres Galarraga off first base with a high throw, he was charged with another error.

"I think I'll make that play next time," Maddux said. "You can give me an error on it."

Considering the eight-time Gold Glove winner had only three errors all of last season, five in the last two and a half seasons, committing two errors in the same game was CNN Play of the Day material.

The error helped the Marlins score another unearned run. Kotsay and Floyd pulled off a successful double steal and when Eddie Perez's throw somehow eluded third baseman Chipper Jones and skipped into left field, Kotsay scampered to his feet and trotted home.

Despite the three errors, the Braves were still clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth when the Marlins strung together three straight singles with one out, the last by All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria, to tie the game. Moments later, Todd Zeile's sacrifice fly on a changeup that Maddux left over the plate sent Todd Dunwoody across the plate with the go-ahead run.

"They hit some balls hard, hit some that found holes and ran the bases aggressively," Maddux said. "They earned the runs they got. Maybe we were a little sloppy early, but late in the game when it was time to win or lose it, they won it."

It was just as easy to say the Braves lost it. After scoring three runs against Florida starter Ryan Dempster in the fourth inning, they managed one single over the final five innings. Left-hander Vic Darensbourg came on and offered 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, then Mantei (3-0) worked the last two.

The Braves had a chance to stretch their lead in the eighth when Jones drew a leadoff walk and Galarraga was hit by a pitch for the 14th time this season. Mantei struck out Michael Tucker, then Andruw Jones swung through a high 3-2 fastball and Eddie Perez followed by swinging at another high full-count fastball.

"We had plenty of opportunities to bust the game open and we swung at some real bad pitches," manager Bobby Cox said.

Jones, who has drawn only 20 walks in 320 at-bats, kicked himself afterward for failing to accept a walk, which would have loaded the bases with one out.

"It's stupid to strike out on a high pitch," he said. "I should take my walk. You want to hit so bad you start chasing those high pitches. Just stupid."

That also reflected the feeling in the Braves clubhouse after the game. It's one thing to be beaten by a dominant performance from a pitcher like Friday night's winner, Jesus Sanchez. It's quite another to give a game away with a four-time Cy Young winner on the mound.

"Everything they hit found a hole," Chipper Jones said. "They started the runners all night and when they protected the runners the ball fell in. It's a helpless feeling. Maddux deserved better. He deserved a win."

Atlanta -- 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 -- 3 6 3
Florida -- 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 x -- 4 7 1

E -- EddPerez (1), GMaddux 2 (3), Zaun (3). LOB -- Atlanta 7, Florida 4. 2B -- Lockhart (20), Tucker (20), EddPerez (6), Kotsay (18). RBIs -- Tucker (37), AJones (45), EddPerez (16), Renteria (22), Zeile 2 (52). SB -- AJones (8), Kotsay (6), Floyd (19). CS -- Renteria (16), Floyd (10). S -- Kotsay. SF -- AJones, Zeile. GIDP -- Galarraga.

DP -- Florida 1 (Counsell, Renteria and RJackson).



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