ATLANTA -- Order was restored in the National League of the '90s yesterday.
The perpetrator was Tom Glavine, who pitched the kind of game the defending NL champion Atlanta Braves are accustomed to, stopping the Florida Marlins on three hits to even the National League Championship Series at one victory apiece.
The Braves' offense kicked in with early home runs by Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones and the Marlins went down to a 7-1 defeat at Turner Field that was strikingly familiar.
"That's the way he pitches. It was typical Glavine," said Marlins outfielder Jim Eisenreich. "This game was a bigger one for them than us and obviously he was up to it."
Glavine entered the game as a .500 postseason pitcher (8-8) and had had his troubles in the NLCS (2-5) and with Florida (5-6 career).
The numbers, however, were not harbingers of what was to transpire.
The left-hander had the Marlins lineup under wraps before tiring with two outs in the eighth inning. Only Kurt Abbott (single and double) had given him any difficulty until Devon White doubled home the Florida run (then was out trying to stretch the hit).
"I thought he was really quick and very sharp," said Braves manager Bobby Cox of his pitcher. "He had a long inning in the seventh and that kind of ruined his eighth and any chance he had of going nine. He really didn't have a fastball when he went out for the eighth, and he had built up some pitches."
Glavine admitted he ran out of steam after White's at-bat. Mike Cather got the starter out of the eighth and closer Mark Wohlers finished.
The Braves posted a three-spot in the first inning to ease Glavine's path, setting the tone immediately when leadoff man Kenny Lofton bunted safely and reached second on Charles Johnson's throwing error, his first in 175 games.
Keith Lockhart followed with a run-scoring triple off Alex Fernandez and two strikeouts later, Klesko homered into the right field stands.
Two innings later, Jones socked a two-run homer behind Lockhart's single, sealing Fernandez' fate.
"You can't let them get out of hand," said Marlin Gary Sheffield. " That puts a lot of pressure on our offense."
Double plays eased Glavine out of trouble in the fourth and fifth and he stranded Abbott after a two-out double in the sixth. It looked like an almost effortless performance until the end.
Glavine said he may have had better command in three games this season (including his start against the Orioles), but "for the setting and tension involved, I can't remember one better than this."
As a team leader, he felt responsibility to exhibit no panic after the 5-3 opening-game defeat to the upstart Marlins.
"If the other guys on the team saw their starting pitcher come into the locker room all tense and jittery, that would be transferable," he said. "I try to be my normal self and goof around."
Klesko and Jones have both homered in each game and the Braves generally feel good about the way they are hitting.
"It makes a big difference if your hitters are hot going down the stretch and into the playoffs," said Cox. "We were so cold the first few weeks in August, it was almost ridiculous. I've always said if you get hot and get a little bit of luck, you can have a lot of success in the postseason."
The Braves also upgraded the defense that betrayed them in the series opener, not committing an error and turning several tough plays into outs.
So, with businesslike precision, they go to South Florida equal with the Marlins, who had dominated them during the regular season.
"We did not want to go to Florida down 0-2, so I guess this was a close to a must-game as you could have gotten," said Glavine.
Jones said he felt badly about the first game because Moises Alou's bouncer down the third-base line got past him for a three-run double and put the Marlins in command early.
"It was important to get back in the saddle early," he said. "I made some good defensive plays and that made me feel at ease.
"I really started to relax a little when Klesko hit the home run in the fist inning. If Fernandez had gotten out of that with only one run, it would have been a different ballgame."
But not much different. Glavine continued the Braves' pitching mastery that had included 26 1/3 straight innings without an earned run until White's double.
Atlanta pitchers have allowed only two earned runs in their last 45 innings in the NLCS.
Florida manager Jim Leyland dismissed talk of a momentum swing in the series.
"Momentum is as good as your next day's pitching," said Leyland. "Everybody thought we had momentum and today they pitched great and we didn't pitch very well, so they got momentum. Whoever pitches real good in Game 3 will have momentum again."
Pub Date: 10/09/97