• 54°

Mets stopped by Braves own miracle

The Associated Press

Andruw Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Kenny Rogers with one out in the 11th inning and the Braves somehow survived a final string of Mets’ comebacks, beating New York 10-9 Tuesday night to win the NL Championship Series 4-2.

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Andruw Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Kenny Rogers with one out in the 11th inning and the Braves somehow survived a final string of Mets’ comebacks, beating New York 10-9 Tuesday night to win the NL Championship Series 4-2.

”We had chances to die and we didn’t,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ”There’s more than one way to win a ballgame.”

On a night that had even more drama than the Mets’ 4-3, 15-inning victory Sunday at Shea Stadium, the teams gave a roaring, raucous crowd of 52,335 all it could handle in one of the most thrilling playoff games ever.

The Braves wrecked the Mets’ hopes of a Subway Series and advanced to the World Series to face the New York Yankees. Game 1 in the rematch of the 1996 Series will be Saturday night at Turner Field.

The Mets, who trailed 5-0 in the first inning, nearly became the first team in postseason history to win three games in a row after losing the first three.

”I told them they played like champions,” Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. ”We don’t have a trophy, but they did everything they had to.”

But after the Mets took a 9-8 lead on Todd Pratt’s sacrifice fly in the 10th at exactly the stroke of midnight, the Braves tied it in the bottom of the inning on pinch-hitter Ozzie Guillen’s single.

Then in the 11th, Gerald Williams led off with a double and moved up on Walt Weiss’ sacrifice. Two intentional walks loaded the bases for Jones, and he worked the count full before taking a ball high and outside.

Valentine slammed the railing on the top step of the dugout and shouted, ”Oh, no!” when Rogers missed.

”I was just going out there, taking pitches until he threw me a strike,” Jones said. ”He didn’t, and I took a walk.”

The tension showed on both sides, as every player, coach and person in each dugout was up against the railing for the final batter. The crowd, including a healthy dose of Mets fans, shouted along in the fifth straight game of the NLCS decided by one run.

Russ Springer wound up the winning pitcher. Braves catcher Eddie Perez, a starter because Javy Lopez was out for the season, was MVP of the series. Perez was 10-for-20 with five RBIs.

”We never could give up. They never gave up,” Perez said.

Now the Braves get a chance to avenge their loss to the Yankees in the October 1996. This marks the first time Series rivals have met in the regular season – Atlanta went 2-1 at Yankee Stadium in interleague play right after the All-Star break.

”We’ve got another shot at them,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.

The Mets, four outs from elimination in Game 4 and two outs away in Game 5, almost found another way to win.

With ”Why not?” written on a clubhouse board, they scored three times in the sixth to chase starter Kevin Millwood and make it 5-3. Mike Piazza, banged up and silent for most of the week, homered off reliever John Smoltz to tie it at 7 in the seventh.

Both teams scored in the eighth – the Mets on Melvin Mora’s single, the Braves on Brian Hunter’s single – and each club had its chance to win in the 10th.