Atlanta Braves Season Ends In 18-Inning Loss To Houston, 7-6

Closer Kyle Farnsworth Fails To Hold 6-1 Lead

Sunday, October 9, 2005 - by Tim Evearitt
Roger Clemens made his first relief appearance since 1984 (his rookie year). Clemens was the winning pitcher of Sunday's marathon win.

<i>Click to enlarge photo</i>
Roger Clemens made his first relief appearance since 1984 (his rookie year). Clemens was the winning pitcher of Sunday's marathon win. Click to enlarge photo
- photo by Tim Evearitt (file photo)

Chris Burke hit a game-winning home run with one out in the bottom of the 18th inning, as Houston advanced to the NLDS for a second straight year with a 7-6 victory over Atlanta Sunday.

After Roger Clemens struck out to begin the home 18th, Burke drilled a 2-0 pitch from rookie Joey Devine (0-1) into the left field seats.

Tim Hudson, the Game 1 loser, was brilliant on three days' rest as Atlanta's starter. He was charged with three runs on six hits and one walk in seven-plus innings. The righty also struck out five and left with a 6-1 lead after the first two batters of the eighth inning reached base.

The closer's role has been a problem all year -- first Dan Kolb, then Chris Reitsma, and finally Kyle Farnsworth.

Farnsworth replaced Hudson and got one out before issuing a walk to load the bases. Lance Berkman then sent a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field for a grand slam to pull Houston within 6-5.

The Atlanta closer then set down the first two Astros in the ninth pulling the Braves within one out of Game 5 at Turner Field Monday. But Brad Ausmus drilled a pitch over the yellow line above the left-center field wall. The ball barely cleared the yellow line for the tying home run.

In the end, it was the closer's failure that cost Atlanta the opportunity of tying the National League Championship Series.

Houston will again face the NL Central champion Cardinals in the NLCS, which is scheduled to start Wednesday in St. Louis.

Clemens (1-1) pitched three innings in relief for the victory. He made his second career relief appearance and first since his rookie season of 1984 with Boston.

* * * *

Adam LaRoche belted a grand slam and Brian McCann added his second homer of the series for the Braves, who have lost in the opening round of the playoffs in five straight seasons.

After Rafael Furcal walked with one out in the third and was forced at second base, Chipper Jones drew a walk and Andruw Jones was hit by a pitch. LaRoche then drilled a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field to give Atlanta a 4-0 lead.

Hudson then set down Houston in order in the third and fourth innings before the Braves tacked on another run in the fifth.

Giles singled, raced to third on a double by Chipper Jones and scored on a sacrifice fly by Andruw Jones to make it 5-0.

Brandon Backe went the first 4 1/3 innings for Houston. He was tagged for five runs on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

The Astros finally broke through against Hudson in the home fifth. Lamb led off with a single, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Jason Lane. Adam Everett and Ausmus followed with base hits to load the bases, but Hudson limited the damage when Orlando Palmeiro hit a sacrifice fly and Biggio flied out.

Atlanta had a chance to extend its lead in the sixth, putting runners on the corners after a Hudson leadoff double and one-out walk to Giles. However, Chipper Jones grounded into a double play.

The Braves also had a runner cut down at the plate in the seventh when LaRoche singled and tried to score on a double into the left field corner by Jeff Francouer, but a perfect relay throw from Everett easily nailed the slow- footed first baseman.

Atlanta tacked on another run in the eighth when McCann led off the inning with his second homer of the series.

* * * *

The Braves, who had numerous scoring opportunities in the extra innings, failed to score. On the other hand, the much maligned bullpen performed extremely well for Atlanta. Chris Reitsma kept the Astros scoreless in the 10th and 11th innings. John Thomson entered and did the same during the 12th and 13th innings. Jim Brower pitched three scoreless innings.
Adapted from article on the Sports Network website.

Atlanta was up 4-0 after Adam LaRoche hit a third inning grand slam home run off Brandon Backe.

<i>Click to enlarge photo</i>
Atlanta was up 4-0 after Adam LaRoche hit a third inning grand slam home run off Brandon Backe. Click to enlarge photo
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt (file photo)

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