Originally created 05/30/99

Glavine stumbles; Braves fall to Dodgers



ATLANTA -- As a native of New England, Tom Glavine has more than a nodding acquaintance with the master of horror, Stephen King.

But there's nothing in King's imagination that could match the demons that are chasing the left-hander through this season. It's been a nightmarish two months and there's no end in sight.

Glavine's world took another turn for the worse Saturday night as the National League's second-most productive lineup failed to support him and a spat of wildness in the fifth inning killed him.

In a performance that epitomized his season, a pair of unearned runs was enough to beat him as the Dodgers evened the series with a 2-1 victory over the Braves before 49,258 fans, the largest crowd of the season at Turner Field, snapping an eight-game losing streak in Atlanta.

The loss was Glavine's sixth, matching last season's total, and tied him for most in the league.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all," Glavine said. "What are you going to do? I'm not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself, and neither is anybody else."

Chipper Jones' team-leading 13th homer was all the scoring the Braves managed against five Los Angeles pitchers. Dodgers starter Carlos Perez (2-6) left in the sixth with a shutout, and the bullpen -- ranked 13th in the league with a 4.81 ERA -- worked four innings, including dominating performances from former Atlanta farmhand Jamie Arnold and ex-Braves reliever Pedro Borbon, to preserve the win.

Atlanta's defense, on pace for 130 errors, let down Glavine in the fifth. First baseman Brian Hunter's error on Angel Pena's double-play grounder opened the door for the Dodgers, and with Glavine's assistance, they stepped through. The left-hander issued a two-out walk to Eric Young to load the bases, then forced in a pair of runs with walks to Gary Sheffield and Raul Mondesi.

"I think I've given in to too many people this year and it's hurt me," Glavine said. "I think it's taken away from my aggressiveness. I don't want to walk a run in, but I'm not going to throw the ball over the middle of the plate and risk allowing four runs. I've been successful because of my stubbornness, and that's the mindset I need to stick with."

Glavine (3-6) could take no solace from a tightened strike zone. The pitches that missed the plate weren't close and even Eric Gregg would have refused to call them strikes. His four-walk performance was a continuation of a wild streak that's plagued him for the last two weeks. In his previous three starts he had issued 10 walks in 15 1/3 innings, a troubling trend for a pitcher who averaged 2.9 walks per nine innings during a 20-win season last year and has averaged three walks per start during his 12-year career.

Perez, who entered the game in a three-way tie for most losses in the National League, changed speeds so effectively the Braves never did figure him out. The left-hander was in trouble frequently, even starting two innings by hitting Hunter and Bret Boone with pitches, but he stranded four runners and even retired the hot-hitting Jones twice without a ball being hit hard.

"The best thing about (Perez) was he kept the ball down all night," Jones said. "He didn't make many mistakes with his split-finger. He kept us off-balance and when he fell behind in the count he threw something off-speed."

Perez (2-6), who had lost his last six decisions to the Braves, certainly wasn't the same pitcher Atlanta's lineup drubbed in Los Angeles last month, cuffing him around for eight hits and six runs during an 11-3 victory. He entered with a 6.39 ERA, yet took a shutout into the sixth before manager Davey Johnson decided his heart couldn't stand any more.

Perez nailed Boone in the knee, then Jones hit a bullet that gobbled up shortstop Mark Grudzielanek, and Johnson signaled the bullpen, calling in Arnold, the Braves' No. 1 draft pick in 1992, who worked out of the jam by coaxing a double-play grounder from Javy Lopez.

"It's like Kevin Brown says," Perez said. "One pitch at a time, one batter at a time. My velocity was a little bit better than in my last start. I pitched good because I had an idea. Tonight I was thinking on every pitch."

Jones' homer was against reliever Alan Mills in the eighth, and, not surprisingly as far as Glavine was concerned, it came with the bases empty. Jeff Shaw closed out the game with a one-hit ninth inning for his 11th save.

"That's the way (Glavine's) year has been going," Jones said. "You give them one additional out and that puts added pressure on Tom to make perfect pitches on some pretty good hitters. He shouldn't have to be perfect all the time."



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