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World Series 2001
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10/12/2001 11:00 PM ET
Braves sweep Astros out of playoffs
By Jim Molony
MLB.com
Julio Franco rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the third inning.

Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Atlanta's dingers: 56k | 300k
Smoltz slams the door shut: 56k | 300k
Bako's homer: 56k | 300k
Burkett highlights: 56k | 300k
Game 3 photo gallery

  • Full postseason coverage
  • Box score

    ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves are back in the National League Championship Series, courtesy of a few Killer B's.

    John Burkett handcuffed Houston's "Killer B" offense for 6 1/3 innings and Paul Bako drove in three runs as the Braves swept the Astros in their National League Division Series with a 6-2 victory Friday afternoon at Turner Field.

    Bako, Julio Franco and Chipper Jones homered to help the Braves advance to the NLCS beginning Tuesday against either Arizona or St. Louis. The Braves are in the NLCS for the 11th time in franchise history and first since 1999.

    The Astros have made the playoffs four times in the last five years but are 2-12 during that span and have never advanced beyond the first round.

    Burkett (1-0), allowed just six hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out four. The right-hander limited the first four hitters in the lineup -- including "Killer B's" Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman -- to just two hits in nine plate appearances.


    Astros 2 6 0
    Braves 6 10 0
    WP: John Burkett (1-0)
    LP: Shane Reynolds (0-1)
    SV: None

    HR: ATL: Chipper Jones (2), Julio Franco (1), Paul Bako (1); HOU: Daryle Ward (1)


    "I went out there just wanting to give us a chance to win," Burkett said. "I was able to do a great job locating my pitches and that has always been the key to my success."

    John Smoltz retired the side in order in the ninth.

    "The pitching really was outstanding for us in this series," said Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox said. "That Houston club can really hit the ball, to do what our pitching staff did in this series against that team was outstanding."

    The favored Astros were completely outplayed by the Braves. Houston had only one lead, 3-2 in Game One, and was outscored 14-6, outhit .303 (30-for-99) to .200 (19-for-95) and outpitched (3.46 to 1.67). The Astros didn't have a hit with a runner in scoring position in the series (0-for-12).

    "They're obviously a great team, that's why they've won 10 straight division titles," Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "They really make the pitches, in the three at-bats I had, I had like one good pitch to hit and that was a curveball by (Steve) Karsay and he throws 97 mph.

        Paul Bako   /   C
    Height: 6'2"
    Weight: 205
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Cubs site
    "They made pitches. They do that year in and year out, that's why they go to the playoffs every year and that's why they get to the World Series. The last three years I felt like we're better than what we've showed in the playoffs. We've never been up 2-1, we've never won an elimination game, and it's frustrating."

    Franco slammed a 3-1 fastball from Reynolds an estimated 397 feet to left field with one out in the third. Franco's homer, his first in a postseason game, gave the Braves a 3-0 lead.

    "I felt like we should've been able to hit Burkett, but I wasn't standing in the batter's box seeing where those pitches were," Houston Manager Larry Dierker said. "Burkett made the good pitches when he had to, and pitched the kind of game that h's pitched a lot this year, and Shane didn't. Shane wasn't horrible, but he certainly wasn't his best."

    Bako, a former Astro and newest parent on the Braves, delivered his first home run of the postseason when he lined a 1-2 fastball from Reynolds into the right-field seats with Rey Sanchez aboard to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the second.

    Bako burnt the Astros again in the fourth, laying down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Andruw Jones as the Braves upped their lead to 4-0.

    "Hitting eighth you don't get much of a chance to bunt, but being a bench guy I happen to be able to do a lot of the little things and do them well," Bako said.

    Jones had reached with a one-out infield single and moved to second on a base hit by Sanchez. Bako then bunted between the mound and third, allowing Jones to score from third.

    The Astros snapped a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings when Daryle Ward hit a two-run pinch hit homer with one out in the eighth off Burkett to cut Atlanta's lead in half at 4-2.

    Chipper Jones answered with a two-run homer off Octavio Dotel in the eighth for Atlanta's final runs.

    The Astros had runners on first and second with two outs in the first but Moises Alou grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat. The Astros were in a similar situation in the third, and Burkett once again induce Alou to ground out to end the inning.

    "We gave everything we had, and it wasn't good enough," Bagwell said. "I know a lot of (the fans) are upset and want changes made, the alternative is we weren't in the playoffs four out of five years. I don't know that that would be anything better. Six weeks ago I thought we could go a long way, we had all our starting pitching healthy, we were rolling."

    But once again it didn't work out that way in the postseason for the Astros.

    "It's extremely disappointing," second baseman Craig Biggio said. "We really thought this time it would be different."

    Jim Molony is a regional writer for MLB.com based in Houston.

    Box score

    Braves 6, Astros 2

    Turner Field

    FINAL

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Astros 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 6 0
    Braves 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 x 6 10 0
    Astros AB R H RBI TB BB K AVG
    Craig Biggio-2B 4 0 1 0 1 0 1 .167
    Jose Vizcaino-SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167
    Jeff Bagwell-1B 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 .429
    Lance Berkman-LF 4 0 1 0 1 0 1 .167
    Moises Alou-RF 4 0 1 0 2 0 0 .167
    Vinny Castilla-3B 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 .273
    Richard Hildalgo-CF 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 .125
    Tony Eusebio-C 3 1 2 0 3 0 0 .667
    Shane Reynolds-P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    Brad Ausmus-PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250
    a-Julio Lugo-PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    Nelson Cruz-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    b-Daryle Ward-PH 1 1 1 2 4 0 0 .500
    Octavio Dotel-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    Ron Villone-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    Totals 33 2 6 2 11 2 7 -
    Batting:
    a-flied to right for Reynolds in the 5th; b-homered for Cruz in the 7th.

    2B - Eusebio (1, Burkett); Alou (1, Burkett).
    HR
    - Ward (1, 7th inning off Burkett 1 on, 1 out).
    RBI
    - Ward 2 (2).
    Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
    - Alou 2, Reynolds 1, Castilla 1.
    Team LOB
    - 6.

    Fielding:
    DP: 1 (Bagwell-Vizcaino-Cruz).
    Braves AB R H RBI TB BB K AVG
    Marcus Giles-2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .150
    Julio Franco-1B 4 2 2 1 5 0 0 .308
    Chipper Jones-3B 3 1 2 2 5 1 0 .444
    Brian Jordan-RF 4 0 1 0 1 0 1 .182
    B.J. Surhoff-LF 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .273
    Andruw Jones-CF 4 1 1 0 1 0 0 .500
    Rey Sanchez-SS 3 1 2 0 3 0 1 .222
    Paul Bako-C 2 1 2 3 6 0 0 .286
    John Burkett-P 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
    Steve Reed-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    Mike Remlinger-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    a-Ken Caminiti-PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    Steve Karsay-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    John Smoltz-P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -
    Totals 31 6 10 6 21 1 4 -
    Batting:
    a-flied to center for Remlinger in the 7th.

    2B - Sanchez (1, Reynolds); Bako (1, Dotel).
    HR
    - Bako (1, 2nd inning off Reynolds 1 on, 2 out); Franco (1, 3rd inning off Reynolds 0 on, 1 out); C Jones (2, 8th inning off Dotel 1 on, 0 out).
    S
    - Bako.
    RBI
    - Bako 3 (3), Franco (1), C Jones 2 (5).
    2-out RBI
    - Bako 2.
    Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
    - Burkett 1, Giles 1.
    GIDP
    - Surhoff. Team LOB - 3.

    Baserunning:
    CS - Jordan (1, 2nd base by Reynolds/Eusebio).
    Astros IP H R ER BB K PIT B-S BF ERA
    Shane Reynolds (L, 0-1) 4 6 4 4 1 1 60 18-42 18 9.00
    Nelson Cruz 2 1 0 0 0 0 10 3-7 6 0.00
    Octavio Dotel 1.1 3 2 2 0 3 23 5-18 7 5.40
    Ron Villone 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 9 3-6 2 0.00
    Pitching:
    Ground balls-fly balls: Reynolds 6-4; Cruz 4-2; Dotel 0-1; Villone 1-1.
    Braves IP H R ER BB K PIT B-S BF ERA
    John Burkett (W, 1-0) 6.1 6 2 2 2 4 91 39-52 27 2.84
    Steve Reed (H, 1) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0-1 1 0.00
    Mike Remlinger (H, 1) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 4 2-2 1 0.00
    Steve Karsay (H, 1) 1 0 0 0 0 1 13 3-10 3 0.00
    John Smoltz 1 0 0 0 0 2 8 1-7 3 2.25
    Pitching:
    Ground balls-fly balls: Burkett 7-8; Reed 1-0; Remlinger 0-1; Karsay 0-2; Smoltz 0-1.
    Umpires: Larry Young (HP) Tim Tschida (1B) Dale Scott (2B) Alfonso Marquez (3B) Randy Marsh (LF) John Hirschbeck (RF)
    Time of game: 2:33
    Attendance: 39,923
    Weather: 77 degrees, overcast. Wind: 7 mph, right to left.
    BOXSCORE COURTESY OF SPORTSTICKER ENTERPRISES, L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED