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Webster takes his turn catching hero's role Backup follows Hoiles as O's extra-inning star

ATLANTA — ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves reliever Mark Wohlers said he made a good pitch to Lenny Webster yesterday. Right where he wanted it.

"It just went out," he said.

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And that's just the way it went for Atlanta during its introduction to the Orioles and interleague play. A good pitch brought nothing but bad results.

With two outs in the 10th inning and Cal Ripken on first, Webster took a fastball that caught a little too much of the plate and hit it over the right-field scoreboard, just far enough to elude the leaping attempt of Andruw Jones and break a 3-3 tie. It was Webster's second homer of the season, the 18th of his career. And it delivered a 5-3 victory that enabled the Orioles to sweep the Braves.

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Jones, who had entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and replaced Michael Tucker in right, crashed into the scoreboard as the ball cleared. He came up empty, just like his team.

"When I turned around, I thought it had a chance," said Wohlers, who previously had allowed one earned run since May 1.

"Unfortunately, I was right."

That's about the only thing lately that has been right with the Braves, losers of four in a row and six of seven.

"It was a frustrating weekend," Wohlers said. "We were in every game and could have won two or three. We were a close second, but that's no consolation. It's time to stop making excuses and go out and do the job, myself included. Baltimore didn't see the real Braves."

The Braves saw enough of Webster yesterday. He singled and walked in four appearances against Tom Glavine, making him 4-for-20 lifetime against the Braves left-hander. And he wisely was thinking fastball in the 10th, even though he remembers Wohlers getting him out on sliders while playing in the National League. Never his heat.

"I don't have any comment for you guys," Webster said to a large group of reporters who had crowded around his locker as he emerged from the shower wearing a towel. Then, he broke into a grin. "Just kidding."

He was just having a little fun with all the attention that normally doesn't follow a backup catcher with a .185 average and 10 RBIs before yesterday.

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"I was looking for a fastball," he said. "The guy throws 98 miles an hour, and I was just looking for one that I could put a good swing on. I didn't swing very hard, but it was a pretty good swing and I let his velocity generate how far the ball went. Luckily for us, it was far enough to get out of the park."

Estimated distance: 365 feet. Not exactly Ruthian proportions.

"I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know if it would go out," said Webster, whose other homer came May 16 in Seattle. "When I saw Andruw Jones jump up, I was like, 'Aw, here we go.' But it was out of his reach."

There were plenty of Orioles who had their doubts.

"It was an unexpected home run off Wohlers; he's such a good reliever," said Jeff Reboulet. "But Lenny got a good pitch to hit, and he supplied a lot of power to be able to take the ball out to right."

"I wasn't sure," said bench coach Andy Etchebarren. "I was sure it was going to be over his head, but it was really close. But he hit the ball good."

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Saturday, it was Chris Hoiles who emerged a hero with a two-run double in the 12th inning. Yesterday, it was Webster's turn in the 10th.

"We're just basically trying to do our jobs, go out and help this club win ballgames," he said. "It just happened to be the two catchers."

Two too many for the Braves.

Pub Date: 6/16/97


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