Braves, Giants to settle issue

Oct. 7, 2002 at 3:37 PM
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ATLANTA, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Giants Monday night will try to become the first team to rally from a two games to one deficit in the National League Division Series when they face the Atlanta Braves in a decisive Game Five.

The National League has never had a team rally to win the Division Series after losing two of the first three games. Six teams have accomplished the feat in the American League, but only two when the fifth game was on the road.

The Minnesota Twins won the final two games of the ALDS against Oakland this season, including Game Five in Oakland on Sunday.

The Giants kept their season alive and forced the do-or-die Game Four with an 8-3 victory Sunday. Livan Hernandez pitched eight-plus strong innings, and Rich Aurilia homered and drove in four runs for San Francisco, which won an elimination game for the first time since 1962.

The Giants are trying to win their first postseason series since 1989, when they beat the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series before losing to the Athletics in the World Series.

The Braves are trying to advance to their second straight NLCS and 10th in 11 seasons. They fell to 6-2 in Division Series-clinching games, and are 10-5 all time at Turner Field in the NLDS.

Kevin Millwood makes his second start of the series for Atlanta on Monday. He was scheduled to start only Game Three before pitching Game Two in place of Greg Maddux, who had a blister on his pitching hand.

Millwood (1-0, 3.00 ERA) helped the Braves even the series with a win in Game Two, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.

"He was excellent (in Game Two)," said Giants Manager Dusty Baker, whose team also may have to fend off rumors that Baker will be taking another job when the season is over. "That's the best we've seen him throw. I see why they said he's been throwing as good as anybody in the league. The last six weeks or so, he's the best pitcher on the staff. Judging from how he threw the other day, I understand how they can say that."

"He's always had good mound presence, and I think that's important," said his Atlanta counterpart, Bobby Cox. "I think a lot of that has rubbed off on Tommy Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux through the years."

Millwood is 17-3 in 26 starts dating back to May 24.

San Francisco has not defeated a righthander in the playoffs since Chicago's Mike Bielecki took the loss in Game Five of the 1989 NLCS.

Russ Ortiz (1-0, 2.57) tries to duplicate his Game One performance for the Giants. In that contest, he allowed just two runs and five hits in seven innings as San Francisco posted an 8-5 win in the series opener.

Ortiz is 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 11 career postseason appearances, including 10 starts.

"We have full confidence in a rested Russ," Baker said. "Hopefully Russ will come out of the series 2-0."

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