Braves' Jordan slams door on Mets' dwindling hopes

Sunday, September 30, 2001

ATLANTA -- Brian Jordan did in the New York Mets for the second time in a week.

His two-out grand slam off John Franco capped a seven-run rally in the ninth inning as Atlanta beat the New York Mets 8-5 Saturday to bolster the Braves' chances for a record 10th straight postseason appearance.

Atlanta trailed 5-1 before rallying off relievers Armando Benitez (6-4) and Franco. It was the Braves' biggest ninth-inning rally since June 8, 1998, when they scored six in the final inning of a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Jordan swung at and missed Francos' first two pitches in the dirt, a fastball and a changeup. The third pitch was a fastball up and over the plate, and Jordan deposited it 395 feet over the left-field fence for the improbable win before a noisy crowd of 46,180.

"Stupid pitch. Stupid, stupid pitch. And I'm an idiot for throwing it," said Franco, who blew his fifth save in seven attempts. "I wanted the pitch inside, but left it out."

Jordan was surprised to get a fastball in that situation.

"When it left my bat, I knew it was out," said Jordan, who was greeted by teammates after he touched home plate. "It was a mob scene. I felt like I got mugged by the entire team."

Jordan should be used to it.

He hit a homer in the ninth last Sunday off Mets closer Armando Benitez as the Braves rallied for three runs to tie it and then hit the game-winning solo shot in the 11th off Jerrod Riggan.

The NL East-leading Braves, who beat New York 5-3 in the opener of the three-game series in Atlanta on Friday, stretched their edge over the third-place Mets to five games.

Atlanta led Philadelphia by two games entering the day.

Andruw Jones opened the bottom of the ninth with a single. After Ken Caminiti struck out, Javy Lopez doubled Jones home. Pinch-hitter Dave Martinez bounced out to second for the second out, before pinch-hitter Keith Lockhart walked.

Rookie Marcus Giles then doubled off the left field wall, scoring Lopez and Lockhart to get the Braves to 5-4.

"It was unbelievable," Giles said. "It was the most exciting moment I've ever had in baseball."

Benitez walked Julio Franco intentionally. John Franco came on and walked pinch-hitter Wes Helms, bringing up Jordan, who followed with his 23rd homer.

"I just wonder why he didn't throw any breaking balls," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "I didn't say anything to the team. They'll digest it. Words aren't going to help them digest it."

Odalis Perez (7-8) got the win for the Braves with two scoreless innings of relief.

CUBS 6, ASTROS 2

CHICAGO -- Fred McGriff, Rondell White and Todd Hundley homered on successive first-inning pitches from Dave Mlicki (7-2).

Kerry Wood (12-6), who couldn't hold a 5-0 lead in his previous start, against Pittsburgh, allowed two runs and three hits in six innings.

The Cubs were eliminated from the NL Central and remained five games behind St. Louis in the wild card race. Houston's lead was cut to two games over the Cardinals.

PHILLIES 5, MARLINS 4

MIAMI -- Pat Burrell, benched earlier in the week, hit a two-run homer off Brad Penny (9-10) and got his 18th assist, tops among NL outfielders, when he helped throw out a runner at the plate.

Brandon Duckworth (3-1) won the first time in seven starts since Aug. 12, allowing four runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. Jose Santiago escaped a bases-loaded jam after Florida scored three runs in the seventh and Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his 39th save.

Philadelphia, which has a three-game series at Atlanta next week, took a 5-1 lead in the sixth, then held on. The Phillies wasted a 5-1 lead in Friday's 6-5 loss.

DIAMONDBACKS 8, DODGERS 1

PHOENIX -- Luis Gonzalez hit his 55th home run and Steve Finley also homered off James Baldwin (2-6), who lost his fifth consecutive decision. Arizona has won fourth straight.

Los Angeles, eliminated from the wild card race, has lost five of six and 11 of 14. The Dodgers trail Arizona by seven games with seven to play.

Miguel Batista (11-8) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings.

REDS 7, EXPOS 4

CINCINNATI -- Robin Jennings hit a two-run homer and Ken Griffey Jr. drove in a pair of runs as Cincinnati assured Montreal of its fourth straight 90-loss season.

Elmer Dessens (10-13) pitched six shutout innings and became the first Reds pitcher to reach the 10-victory mark. Danny Graves got three outs for his 30th save.

Masato Yoshii (4-6) gave up four runs in the first inning and took the loss.

ROCKIES 14, BREWERS 12

DENVER -- Denny Neagle hit his second career grand slam, but couldn't last long enough to get the win. Terry Shumpert went 4-for-4 with three runs scored, and Jeff Cirillo had three hits and two RBIs for the Rockies, who had 16 hits.

-- From wire reports

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