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Arizona 3, Atlanta 2

Oct. 21, 2001 at 11:33 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks turned the clutch pitching of Randy Johnson and a two-run homer by pinch-hitter Erubiel Durazo into the first World Series trip in franchise history Sunday night, eliminating the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, 3-2.

In their fourth year of their existance, the Diamondbacks will play for the championship of Major League Baseball beginning next Saturday against either the Seattle Mariners, the single-season record holder for victories, or the New York Yankees, winners of the title the last three years.

No expansion team has ever made it to the World Series quicker than the Diamondbacks.

Johnson, who joins with Curt Schilling to make up a formidable power-pitching combination, took a seven-game playoff losing streak into the NLCS. But he won Game 1 and was the winning pitcher in Game 5 Sunday night.

He allowed seven hits over seven innings, but Atlanta stranded nine batters while Johnson was on the mound and Byung-Hyun Kim came on to limit the Braves to one baserunner over the final two innings.

In addition to their inability to come up with the big hit that might have made the difference, the Braves also suffered another key lapse in the field that ultimately ended their season.

After allowing six unearned runs in a blowout loss Saturday night, Atlanta was undone Saturday night when second baseman Marcus Giles botched a grounder off the bat of Craig Counsell leading off the fifth.

Counsell was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Luis Gonzalez and Reggie Sanders struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning. Durazo then came on to bat for Mark Grace and he launched a homer that provided the winning run.

The home run gave Arizona a 3-1 lead after the teams had battled to a 1-1 deadlock through four innings.

Grace scored Arizona's first run in the fourth with a one-out single, after which Matt Williams walked and Danny Bautista delivered an RBI single.

Julio Franco tied the game in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff homer.

Johnson faced a major crisis in the seventh when he gave up a one-out single to Rey Sanchez, walked Giles with two out and allowed a base hit by Franco up the middle that drove in Sanchez.

Chipper Jones then worked a walk to load the bases, bringing Brian Jordan to the plate. After a classic duel, Johnson got Jordan to swing and miss on a sinking fast ball on a 2-2 count.

"We are here not because of three or four people on this roster, but because of all the people who were a part of this organization," said Johnson, who will be making his first World Series appearance.

"I've often wondered what has to happen to get to the World Series. A lot of people have to step up."

Arizona's Bob Brenly becomes the first rookie manager to manage in a World Series since Kansas City's Jim Frye 21 years ago.

"It's easy when you have a group like this," said Brenly, who a year ago was a network baseball broadcaster. "These guys believed in what we tried to do. We've got some idea about what is in store for us. But we will worry abuot that when we get to it."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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