Braves go to Avery for Game 4


ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox had the luxury of naming contingent starting pitchers for Game 4 tonight. Cincinnati Reds manager Davey Johnson was going with ace Pete Schourek either way.

Cox had Tom Glavine and Steve Avery set to go tonight depending on the outcome of Game 3. When the Braves took a 3-0 series lead, Avery got the ball and everybody else in the Atlanta rotation got an extra day of rest.

"That will give us four shots at one win," Cox said, "and everybody will be rested."

Schourek will be going on three days' rest for the first time in the postseason, but he didn't seem particularly concerned about the change in routine.

"I just had to bring my schedule up a day," he said.

Sanders still struggling

Reggie Sanders struck out his first three times up to tie one dubious playoff record and set another. That gave him a string of five straight strikeouts in five plate appearances -- tying a record set by former Cincinnati outfielder Cesar Geronimo -- and set a playoff record with seven strikeouts in two games.

It has been a tough series for everyone at the heart of the Reds' lineup. Ron Gant, Sanders and first baseman Hal Morris came into the game with a total of just four hits in 25 at-bats and combined to go hitless in their first eight at-bats last night before stringing together three singles for the run in the eighth. Even with those three hits, their combined average for the series is just .194.

One more vote for Chipper

Johnson was asked during yesterday's pre-game news conference who he thought should be NL Rookie of the Year. He went with Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, whose 86 RBIs came within one of the Braves rookie record.

Said Johnson, a couple of hours before Jones hit a two-run home run. "The other guy [Hideo Nomo] came over from Japan and pitched very well, but I think this kid is the Rookie of the Year."

Devereaux starts again

Former Orioles outfielder Mike Devereaux was back in the starting lineup last night after making an unexpected appearance as a starter in Game 2. He had the game-winning hit in Game 1.

"Devereaux's been good," Cox said. "We needed someone to help us get into the playoffs and help us when we got there. He was very important. You hate to have too many left-handed hitters in the lineup at one time."

Devereaux had a single in four at-bats last night and made a nice catch in left field.


The Braves are doing everything in their power to slow down the top of the Reds' lineup. Last night, they watered the area in front of home plate excessively, apparently to discourage Reds from bunting. . . . Cincinnati had scored only three runs in the first two games of the series, but two of them came in an inning that began with two bunts.. . . . Braves shortstop Jeff Blauser remained sidelined with a deep thigh bruise, suffered in a collision with Cincinnati first baseman Hal Morris in Game 1. He's also doubtful for tonight.. . . . Former Oriole Dwight Smith sang the national anthem last night, which he did once during the regular season.

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