ATLANTA -- The polite thing would be to say Tom Glavine gave his Cy Young chances a giant boost.
But that wouldn't begin to describe how thoroughly he outclassed Randy Johnson in a Tuesday night matchup of the National League's two best left-handers.
Losers of eight of their past 11 games, the Braves parlayed Glavine's seven dominant innings and a pair of two-run home runs by Chipper Jones into a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks before a disappointingly small crowd of 29,722 at Turner Field.
"Anytime you can beat a guy like Randy Johnson, it does a lot for your confidence," said Glavine, who's won his past five starts and 12 of his past 13. "This is a big test for us. You can't ask for a better way to get a homestand started."
Jones, who took Johnson deep twice exactly one year ago, gave the Braves a 2-1 lead in the first with his first home run since Aug. 25. He followed four innings later with another one, leaving him two RBI shy of reaching 100 for the fifth straight year, and matching Juan Gonzalez for the most career home runs (5) against the two-time Cy Young winner.
"(Johnson) makes his living on the inside corner and with a hard slider down and in," Jones said. "But every pitch I got to hit tonight was kind of out over the plate.
"It's just guessing right. That guy has such devastating stuff, you have to sit on a particular pitch or a particular location. Tonight he made those mistakes and I didn't miss them."
Glavine, who is 9-1 following a Braves' loss this season (8-0 since July 2), displayed a command of the strike zone thatlikely made Johnson envious. He made 113 pitches, 72 for strikes, and allowed just one earned run in a performance that earned him his 19th win and left him tied with Toronto's David Wells for the major league lead.
The cool, gusty weather reminded everyone of October baseball, but the two defenses played like it was March. The Diamondbacks were charged with four errors, the Braves answered with three of their own, and videotape of the carnage likely was destroyed following the game.
Glavine's first was a disaster, though he was blameless. A pair of throwing errors (Andres Galarraga and Walt Weiss) set up Luis Gonzalez's sacrifice fly and forced the left-hander to make 37 pitches to retire the side.
Glavine, who had not yielded a home run in his past 23 innings, left a 2-and-0 delivery up to Greg Colbrunn in the fourth and the ex-Brave launched a game-tying homer over the right field wall.
But that was the last spot of trouble the left-hander encountered. He set down 11 of the final 13 hitters he faced and didn't allow a runner to advance past first base.
"With four or five starts left, a lot can happen to sway it in my favor or sway it in someone else's favor," said Glavine, referring to the Cy Young race. "I just know I've got a good thing going and I'm going to ride it for as long as I can."
Despite 11 strikeouts, the 146th time in his career he's reached double digits, Johnson (17-6) couldn't put away the Braves. He lasted six innings, and the five earned runs upped his earned run average to 2.45, still the league's best.
The bottom of the first was no picnic for Johnson. Jones, who has struggled mightily with runners in scoring position this season, followed Andruw Jones' single and stolen base with his 31st home run, lining a 97 mph fastball into the right field seats, a drive estimated at 384 feet.
In the fifth, Glavine walked and Chipper Jones, who entered the game hitless in his past 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, delivered his second home run, launching Johnson's 0-and-2 slider into the left field stands.
Galarraga, a strikeout victim in his first two at-bats, followed with another home run (No. 26) into the right field seats to make it 5-2.
"I wish I could have had a couple of pitches back," said Johnson, who was 22-0 in September and October regular-season games stretching back over the past eight years. "I'm not going to say I'm frustrated. I'm two pitches away from pitching a good game."
Mike Remlinger and John Rocker combined for the final six outs. Rocker arrived with two out and runners on first and second in the eighth and induced Colbrunn to tap back to him, then struck out the side in the ninth for his 19th save.
"Having to face Randy Johnson in the first game is not something you want to have to do," Chipper Jones said. "It's a big lift. Hopefully, we can carry it into tomorrow."
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us