D-Backs grab 3-1 lead over Braves

Sunday, October 21, 2001

ATLANTA -- These aren't the Atlanta Braves, the guys making their 10th straight trip to the playoffs.

No, these are the Bad News Braves.

With a display of glovework more suited to a Little League field, Greg Maddux and the Braves took themselves to the edge of elimination in the NL championship series with a dismal 11-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.

Arizona has a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can earn its first trip to the World Series on Sunday night -- with Randy Johnson rested and ready to go.

The Braves look as if they are ready to stay home. After clinching another NL East championship, a group of postseason veterans suddenly forgot how to play the game.

Their misery lasted from the first inning, when Craig Counsell reached first on a passed ball after striking out, to the ninth, when Rey Sanchez's second error gave the Diamondbacks four more unearned runs -- six in all.

Luis Gonzalez finished off the Braves with a three-run homer.

Maddux, the winner of 11 straight Gold Glove awards, looked more lost than anyone during a four-run third that turned the game in Arizona's favor.

The Braves became the first team in the 33-year history of the NLCS to make three errors in one inning, which included an errant throw by Maddux and a mental gaffe by the four-time Cy Young winner that was even more shocking.

Maddux was knocked out in the fourth. Arizona started the inning with three straight hits, the last a two-run double by Counsell, Arizona's Mr. October. He finished with four RBIs.

Pitching on three days' rest for the first time this season, the 35-year-old Maddux lasted just three innings -- his shortest start in 29 postseason appearances

Brian Anderson picked up the win, giving up one run in 3 1-3 innings. Byung-Hyun Kim escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and earned his first save of the series.

For the second night in a row, the Braves were undone by basic fundamentals. In the fifth inning of Game 3, Julio Franco and Marcus Giles both failed to cover first and Javy Lopez let two runs score when he dropped a throw to the plate.

After that batch of miscues, Curt Schilling cruised to a 5-1 victory.

Surely, it couldn't happen again to a team playing its 105th postseason game since 1991. It did, just one night later.

Arizona starter Albie Lopez, who dominated the Braves during the regular season, lasted only three innings. He gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones in the first and a 422-foot homer to Andruw Jones in the second.

It didn't matter as Maddux added another chapter to his postseason misery. He dropped to 4-8 in the NLCS and 10-13 overall in all playoff games.

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