ATLANTA -- Say this for the Atlanta Braves: They can punish you slowly and make the pain last a long time or strike quickly and keep the suffering to a minimum.
After putting a prolonged hurt to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night, the Braves came home yesterday and delivered a quick blow to beat the Phillies, 9-4, and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
All it took for the Braves to get halfway toward their third straight NL pennant was a five-run sixth inning. They added four more in the seventh for good measure.
And as it had been during their dramatic second-half drive to win the NL Western Division, the middle of the Atlanta order did the damage. Ron Gant, Fred McGriff, Terry Pendleton and David Justice scored six times with six hits and five RBI.
"Our team has felt all year long that we can have a big inning and we felt that the whole day," said Pendleton, who was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs.
The Braves, who tattooed the Phillies, 14-3, in Game 2, set a playoff record with 23 runs in consecutive games.
"That's the way this team is," said winning pitcher Tom Glavine. "There are going to be some nights when a pitcher is going to shut us down, but for the most part, we feel we're going to go out and score four, five or six runs a game."
Their latest victim was Phillies starter Terry Mulholland, who had blanked the Braves on five hits through five innings, tossing only 55 pitches to that point.
But Mulholland -- who had pitched only four innings since Sept. 6 because of a strained left hip flexor -- threw just 12 more pitches, never retiring a batter in the sixth.
Shortstop Jeff Blauser led off with a ground single up the middle past Mulholland. Gant walked, and McGriff and Pendleton lashed first-pitch singles up the middle to drive in runs and tie the score.
Then Justice lashed a drive over the head of left fielder Pete Incaviglia, who is making everything hit to him in this series an adventure. Justice's double scored McGriff and Pendleton and sent Mulholland to the showers.
"We thought we could get something going when Blauser got that hit and then Ronnie walked," Pendleton said. "Now he's got to pitch to McGriff and we all know that's no picnic. We felt we had an opportunity to explode for some runs and fortunately we did."
There was more, of course. The Braves added another run in the sixth on an error by Phillies second baseman Mariano Duncan, and four runs in the seventh -- three of them scoring on a two-out bases-clearing double by second baseman Mark Lemke.
But the game, for all practical purposes, ended on Justice's double, which broke an 0-for-13 NLCS slump for the Atlanta right fielder.
"I thought he [Mulholland] had a shot to get Justice out," said Philadelphia manager Jim Fregosi. "I thought the game was still in hand and he just didn't get him out."
Glavine, who was 0-4 in four previous NLCS starts with a 6.33 ERA, was good long enough for the Atlanta bats to take over, giving up two runs in seven innings.
The Phillies did have their chances, though, thanks to first baseman John Kruk, who drove in all three Philadelphia runs.
Neither Mulholland nor Kruk was helped by the Philadelphia bullpen. Yesterday's procession of Roger Mason, Larry Andersen, David West and Bobby Thigpen gave up the final four runs, bringing the aggregate ERA of the Phillies relievers to 7.71 for the series.
"The bullpen has done a heck of a job all year," said Phillies pitching coach Johnny Podres. "But some of these guys are all pitched out now. At this stage of the year, there's not much you can do."
The same may be said soon about the Phillies.
Phillies fourth: Duncan tripled to center. Kruk tripled to right-center, Duncan scored. Hollins grounded out to shortstop Blauser. Daulton grounded out to pitcher Glavine. Incaviglia flied out to center fielder Nixon. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Phillies 1, Braves 0.
Phillies sixth: Kruk homered to left on 1-2 count. Hollins flied out to right fielder Justice. Daulton grounded out to second baseman Lemke. Incaviglia grounded out to second baseman Lemke. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Phillies 2, Braves 0.
Braves sixth: Blauser singled to pitcher. Gant walked, Blauser to second. McGriff singled to center, Blauser scored, Gant to third. Pendleton singled to center, Gant scored, McGriff to third. Justice doubled to left-center, McGriff and Pendleton scored. Mason relieved Mulholland. Berryhill flied out to right fielder Chamberlain, Justice to third. Lemke safe on second baseman Duncan's fielding error, Justice scored. Glavine grounded out to first baseman Kruk, Lemke to second. Nixon struck out. 5 runs, 4 hits, 1 error, 1 left on. Braves 5, Phillies 2.
Braves seventh: Andersen pitching. Blauser doubled to left. Gant grounded out to pitcher Andersen. McGriff intentionally walked. Pendleton singled to right, Blauser scored, McGriff to second. West relieved Andersen. Justice struck out. Berryhill walked, McGriff to third, Pendleton to second. Lemke doubled to center, McGriff, Pendleton and Berryhill scored. Cabrera, pinch-hitting for Glavine, struck out. 4 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Braves 9, Phillies 2.
Phillies eighth: Mercker pitching. Dykstra grounded out to first // baseman McGriff. Duncan tripled to right center. Kruk grounded out to shortstop Blauser, Duncan scored. Hollins walked. Hollins stole second. Daulton flied out to left fielder Gant. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Braves 9, Phillies 3.
dTC Phillies ninth: McMichael pitching. Incaviglia flied out to right fielder Justice. Chamberlain doubled to center. Stocker singled to center, Chamberlain to third. Eisenreich, pinch-hitting for Thigpen, doubled to center, Chamberlain scored, Stocker to third. Dykstra struck out. Duncan grounded out to shortstop Blauser. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Braves 9, Phillies 4.
NL PLAYOFFS TONIGHT
(Braves lead series, 2-1)
Site: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Phillies starter: Danny Jackson (12-11, 3.77)
Braves starter: John Smoltz (15-11, 3.62)
TV: Channels 11, 9
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)
NL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
' Braves lead series, 2-1
Gm. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Result
1. ... ... ... ... .. .. .. ... Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 inn.)
2. ... ... ... .. .. .. ... ... Braves 14, Phillies 3
3. ... ... ... .. .. ... .. ... Braves 9, Phillies 4
Gm. ... ... ... Date ... ... ... Site ... ... ... Time
4. .. .. .. ... Today .. ... ... Atl. ... ... ... 8:29
5. ... .. .. .. Tomorrow ... ... Atl. ... ... ... 3:07
6. * ... ... .. Wednesday .. ... Phil. .. ... ... 3:07, or 8:12
7. * ... ... .. Thursday ... ... Phil. .. ... ... 8:12
* - If necessary
TV: All games on chs. 11, 9