ST. LOUIS -- If the rest of baseball is wondering how the Atlanta Braves keep winning with a pair of All-Stars, a fifth starter and a closer on the disabled list, look no further than Friday night's game for an answer.
A club that has found a different hero every game hasn't exhausted its supply yet.
Missing cleanup hitter Brian Jordan, the Braves waited until the last moment to extend their winning streak to eight games, using a ninth-inning rally capped by Bret Boone's two-out RBI hit to silence a sold-out Busch Stadium and take a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals.
Boone, whose struggles at the plate have mirrored the wildest ride Disney can imagine, delivered his biggest hit of the season at a most opportune moment. Following hits by Greg Myers and Gerald Williams in the ninth, he sent a 1-2 pitch from reliever Juan Acevedo into right field to score Jordan, pinch-running for Myers, with the winning run.
The trading deadline deal that brought pitcher Terry Mulholland and shortstop Jose Hernandez from the Cubs is looking better and better each time the veteran left-hander heads to the mound. While Hernandez had taken over as the regular shortstop, Mulholland has stepped into the rotation and given the Braves a series of solid performances.
He did again Friday night, taking Greg Maddux's turn and working six innings of one-run ball. It was worth the price of admission just to watch Mulholland skirt disaster like a trapeze artist tiptoeing over a fiery pit. With a pair of runners on in the first he got the heart of St. Louis' lineup -- Mark McGwire, Fernando Tatis and Ray Lankford -- on a pair of strikeouts and a fly, then dodged Joe McEwing's one-out double in the second.
Four singles produced a tie game in the third, but Mulholland left the Cardinals feeling frustrated by forcing a fielder's choice grounder from Craig Paquette and McEwing's soft fly to leave the bases loaded.
If Mulholland, who was 0-6 with a 5.36 ERA against the Cardinals in 12 games since last beating them in 1993, could have figured out a way to retire Edgar Renteria, he would have carried a shutout into the seventh inning. Renteria had three sharp singles in his first three at-bats and scored in the third on Tatis' hit.
Still tied 1-1 in the seventh, Mulholland was lifted for a pinch hitter having allowed eight hits with a season-high seven strikeouts.
Cards starter Garrett Stephenson, 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA since his recall from Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 6, did some nifty escape work of his own. He opened the game with a four-pitch walk to Gerald Williams, which eventually resulted in Chipper Jones' 83rd RBI, then left the bases loaded in the third by coaxing a popup from Andruw Jones.
Stephenson ducked more trouble in the sixth following a two-out walk to Andruw Jones. Randall Simon's second hit, an infield single, advanced a runner into scoring position for the first time since the third, but Jose Hernandez couldn't deliver a clutch hit to score him.
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