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‘98 Braves send series back to Atlanta with thrilling 7-6 win in Game 5

Tucker drove in five runs to help the Braves avoid elimination again.

Michael Tucker of the Atlanta Braves watches his t Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

Fresh off a victory in Game 4, the Atlanta Braves were looking to prolong the series and send it back to Turner Field. After dropping the first three games, Atlanta scored an 8-3 victory in Game 4 thanks to a homer by Javy Lopez and a grand slam by Andres Galarraga that finally gave them a bit of breathing room. Game 5 would again be a roller coaster ride featuring a pitching rematch from Game 1.

John Smoltz allowed four hits and two runs over seven innings but walked five in Game 1, where the Padres won in extra innings. Andy Ashby held the Braves in check, allowing five hits and one run on a solo homer by Andruw Jones over seven innings.

1998 NLCS Lineups Game 5

# Braves # Padres
# Braves # Padres
1 Ozzie Guillen SS 1 Quilvio Veras 2B
2 Keith Lockhart 2B 2 Steve Finley CF
3 Chipper Jones 3B 3 Tony Gwynn RF
4 Andres Galarraga 1B 4 Ken Caminiti 3B
5 Ryan Klesko LF 5 Wally Joyner 1B
6 Javy Lopez C 6 John Vander Wal LF
7 Andruw Jones CF 7 Carlos Hernandez C
8 Michael Tucker RF 8 Chris Gomez SS
9 John Smoltz P 9 Andy Ashby P

Having just secured their first victory in the series, Bobby Cox stuck with the same lineup for Game 5 with Ozzie Guillen leading off and playing shortstop. With Ashby on the mound, Lockhart, Klesko and Tucker all remained in the lineup. Bruce Bochy returned to his standard lineup for Game 5 with Wally Joyner at first base and John Vander Wal taking over in left field against Smoltz.

1st Inning - Padres 2, Braves 0

Guillen got right to work against Ashby in the first lining a single to right field to open the game. Yet, the Braves were unable to do anything with it as Lockhart flew out for the first out while Chipper and Galarraga both grounded out for the final outs of the inning.

Smoltz’s evening began by getting Veras to ground out to Lopez for the first out but he soon ran into trouble afterwards. Finley walked on four pitches which brought up Gwynn. Smoltz caught a break with Gwynn going after the first pitch as he fouled out for the second out. That would bring up Caminiti who also went after the first pitch and drove it out to left for a two-run homer to put the Padres in front early.

Smoltz recovered after Joyner singled and got Vander Wal to tap back to the mound for the final out but the Braves were again looking at an early deficit with elimination looming.

2nd Inning - Padres 2, Braves 0

The Braves would add another baserunner against Ashby in the second but were again unable to do anything with it. Klesko began the inning with a ground out. Ashby then struck out Lopez swinging before Andruw worked a walk. Tucker grounded out to Joyner at first to end the inning.

Smoltz settled down in his second inning of work striking out Hernandez for the first out. Gomez grounded to Lockhart at second before Smoltz made quick work of Ashby to end the frame.

3rd Inning - Padres 2, Braves 0

As has been the case for most of the series, the Braves would threaten in the third but again failed to deliver a timely hit. Smoltz led off the inning and grounded out to first. Guillen followed with another single. Lockhart then flew out for the second out. Guillen moved all the way to third on a single by Chipper but was left stranded as Galarraga flew out to left for the final out.

Still in a groove, Smoltz struck out Veras and Finley to open the third and then got Gwynn to ground out to second for a quick 11-pitch inning.

4th Inning - Padres 2, Braves 1

Atlanta would finally break through in the fourth. Klesko flew out to right for the first out but Lopez and Jones followed with a pair of singles. That would bring Tucker to the plate and he lined a 1-2 pitch to right to score Lopez and make it 2-1. The Braves tried a squeeze play with Smoltz at the plate but Andruw was tagged out for the second out. Of course, Smoltz followed with a single but Guillen flew out to end the inning.

Smoltz went back to work in the fourth retiring Caminiti and Joyner on ground outs. Vander Wal then singled to right snapping a streak of nine straight retired by Smoltz, who then came back and struck out Hernandez for the final out.

5th Inning - Padres 2, Braves 1

Ashby held the Braves in check in the fifth, retiring Lockhart and Chipper on grounders while Galarraga flew out to Finley in center for the final out.

Smoltz continued to deal, striking out Gomez and Ashby to begin the fifth. Veras followed with a two-out single to left but was left stranded as Finley tapped back to the mound.

6th Inning - Padres 4, Braves 2

The sixth started out inauspiciously for the Braves as Klesko and Lopez both grounded out to open the frame. Andruw followed with a single and then stole second base. Tucker came through again with a single up the middle that scored Jones to tie the game. Ashby recovered striking out Smoltz to end the inning but the game was now tied, albeit momentarily.

Smoltz made quick work of Gwynn and Caminiti with a fly out and a grounder to short. Joyner then worked the count full and reached on an infield tapper down the third base line which would prove to be big. Smoltz jumped ahead 0-2 in the count but Vander Wal leveled off on his next pitch and drove it over the wall in left for a two-run homer to make it 4-2 after homering just five times in the regular season. It would be his only homer in 16 career playoff games. Hernandez then blooped a single into right but was thrown out at second as he tried to stretch it into a double for the final out.

7th Inning - Padres 4, Braves 2

Mark Langston would replace Ashby to open the seventh and promptly served up a single to Guillen. Cox called for Greg Colbrunn to come out and pinch hit for Lockhart but sensing an opportunity to close out the series, Bochy summoned Kevin Brown from the bullpen. Brown struck out Colbrunn for the first out and then got Chipper and Galarraga to fly out to end the inning.

Smoltz came back out for the seventh and allowed a single to Gomez to open the inning. He then struck out Ruben Rivera for the first out. Veras then dropped down a bunt which he beat out for a single with Gomez advancing all the way to third on an error by Galarraga. Finley then grounded back to Smoltz who threw home to nab Gomez at the plate as he tried to score. Cox would then emerge from the dugout and call for John Rocker to face Gwynn, and Rocker got a ground out to Guillen to end the inning.

8th Inning - Braves 7, Padres 4

Atlanta went into the eighth needing a big inning and they finally got it. Brown walked Klesko to lead off the inning. Lopez followed with a single to left. Cox sent Marty Malloy to pinch run for Lopez. Brown then got Andruw to foul out on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. That would bring up Tucker, who worked the count full and then drove a low fastball out to right for a three-run home run to give Atlanta the lead.

That would end Brown’s night. Bochy inserted Donne Wall from the bullpen. Now with the lead, Cox decided to leave Rocker in the game to hit for himself. Rocker appeared in 45 games during the regular season but did not log a single plate appearance. Of course, Wall walked Rocker on five pitches. That would bring Tony Graffanino to the plate who promptly doubled to left. Rocker motored all the way around and beat the relay throw to the plate. Graffanino would move up and score as well on an error on the relay by Gomez to increase the Braves lead to 7-4. Wall would then walk Chipper on four pitches but Galarraga grounded out to Caminiti at third for the final out. The Braves ended up scoring five times, three times on Tucker’s conventional homer and twice on Graffanino’s Little League homer.

Eddie Perez took over behind the plate and Gerald Williams headed out to left field in the bottom half of the inning. Rocker retired Caminiti on a flyout and then did the same to pinch-hitter Andy Sheets. He was then replaced by Rudy Seanez who got pinch-hitting Jim Leyritz to ground out to end the inning.

9th Inning - Braves 7, Padres 6

Brian Boehringer replaced Wall in the ninth and retired Williams on a flyout to begin the inning. Perez followed with a single but Andruw popped out in foul territory for the second out. With Tucker headed to the plate, Bochy brought in Randy Myers who got the strikeout to end the inning.

Cox would again turn to Kerry Ligtenberg in the ninth but it wouldn’t go well this time around, either. Ligtenberg walked Mark Sweeney on four pitches and then allowed a pinch-hit two-run home run to Greg Myers to make it 7-6. That was also Myers’ only postseason homer across 16 games. That brought Cox back out of the dugout and Game 3 starter Greg Maddux into the game to try and get the final three outs.

Maddux struck out pinch-hitter Greg Vaughn in his first at-bat since Game 1. Veras grounded out to Guillen for the second out. Maddux ran the count full to Finley and lost him for a base on balls but Gwynn grounded out to Galarraga at first for the final out.

Game 5 Wrap Up

The Braves won their second straight game and had built just a bit of momentum with the series about to shift back to Atlanta. Bochy played a big card bringing in Brown but it didn’t work out as he was unable to hold the lead. Tucker was the big hero for the Braves going 3-for-5 at the plate with a homer and five RBIs, driving in the first five runs for his team before Graffanino’s double.

Smoltz pitched well but got stung by a pair of homers. He allowed nine hits and four runs while striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings. Ashby allowed nine hits and two runs in six innings and left the game with the lead.