Braves break out in 9th, take 2-0 lead on Rockies Mordecai's RBI single helps Atlanta win, 7-4


DENVER -- Just because he got only 75 at-bats all season didn't mean that Atlanta Braves rookie Mike Mordecai wasn't red-hot.

"We have that big heater in the dugout," Mordecai said last night at chilly Coors Field after hitting a ninth-inning, game-winning pinch-hit single. "I was standing next to that all night."

The Braves scored four runs in a wild ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies, 7-4, and take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-five division playoff series.

Mordecai got his first postseason at-bat with two outs and Colorado right-hander Darren Holmes on the mound. Mordecai got ahead in the count 3-0. Braves manager Bobby Cox believes in letting his hitters swing at 3-0 pitches.

"It's the best pitch to hit," Cox said. "If managers let me swing 3-0, I'd have hit .300."

Mordecai said he was looking for a fastball from Holmes.

"He has a great breaking ball, and he will throw it there," Mordecai said. "But I guessed fastball. I had the green light, and it just worked out for us tonight."

Mordecai singled up the middle, scoring Fred McGriff from second. The next batter, Rafael Belliard, hit a grounder to second. Colorado's Eric Young threw the ball past first baseman Andres Galarraga, allowing two runs to score.

"All of a sudden we're down three runs," Colorado manager Don Baylor said. "One run is not much of a deficit in this ballpark. Three runs is different."

Mordecai made his pitch for rookie of the night, but Chipper Jones, the Braves' Rookie of the Year candidate, got the ninth-inning rally started. Jones, who hit the game-winning homer in the ninth inning of Game 1, led off the ninth last night with a double. He scored the tying run on McGriff's single off Mike Munoz.

Once again, the Rockies held their own against a first-rate starting pitcher. In Game 1, it was Greg Maddux. Last night, Tom Glavine allowed only five hits in seven innings. Glavine was spotted a three-run lead, but saw it disappear with Larry Walker's sixth-inning, three-run homer.

For the second straight night, Braves reliever Alejandro Pena gave up a big hit -- in this case the double that gave Colorado a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth -- but was credited with the win.

Galarraga, who struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of Game 1, stroked the go-ahead double to deep right. Atlanta right fielder David Justice got turned around and was unable to right himself in time to catch the ball. Dante Bichette, who had doubled, scored from second.

The Rockies' rally was set in motion when center fielder Ellis Burks left the game in the top of the eighth with a mild concussion. Burks dove for Dwight Smith's pinch double and, after getting his glove on the ball, landed face down. Burks stayed in the game at first, but after three pitches signaled that he had to come out.

Burks, a right-hander, was scheduled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. With left-handed Mike Kingery replacing Burks, Cox brought left-hander Steve Avery in to pitch. Avery got Kingery, but Bichette hit a double that was nearly caught by a diving Mike Devereaux in left. Avery stayed in to face the left-handed Walker, striking him out, but Pena came on to face Galarraga.

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