Braves 8, Diamondbacks 1

Thursday, October 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) _ Javy Lopez was not supposed to be here, not after a nasty collision at home plate last month.

Yet he arrived in the nick of time to breathe life into the Atlanta Braves.

``He's one of those guys who can turn a game around with one swing,'' the Braves' Brian Jordan said.

That swing sent the ball off the right-field foul pole for a two-run homer that broke a tie in the seventh inning and sent Atlanta on its way to an 8-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

The best-of-seven NL championship series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 Friday night.

It was Lopez's first start since he sprained his left ankle Sept. 30 in a collision with Robin Ventura.

``With a high ankle sprain, it generally takes 6-to-8 weeks,'' manager Bobby Cox said. ``The best we could get from the doctor was a chance for the World Series, and that was probably less than 50-50. They got him ready somehow. It's kind of amazing.''

Cox said before the game that he put Lopez into the lineup in hopes that he could provide some home-run support for Tom Glavine. The Atlanta manager came away looking like a prophet.

The Braves dreaded the thought of going home for Game 3 Friday night down 2-0 and facing Curt Schilling, Mr. Unbeatable so far in the playoffs.

``I always feel like Game 2 is an urgent game in any series. To me, it's a huge swing game,'' Glavine said. ``You can either go up two, down two or tie things up. Any of those is vastly different than the other. In this instance, it's probably magnified. We certainly didn't want to go home down 2-0 with the prospect of facing Curt.''

After Glavine shut down Arizona for seven innings, the Braves turned the game into a rout with five runs off of a parade of old-timers out of the Diamondbacks' shaky bullpen.

Jordan doubled in two runs off 42-year-old Mike Morgan, B.J. Surhoff hit a two-run homer off 36-year-old Greg Swindell and Rey Sanchez singled in a run off 37-year-old Bobby Witt.

``Our guys down there obviously are not power pitchers,'' Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. ``They rely on movement and location. Certainly the location wasn't there.''

Glavine allowed one run and five hits to improve to 2-0 in this year's playoffs. He struck out two and walked two before giving way to Steve Karsay.

As usual, Glavine's biggest weapon was his control. He baffled the Diamondbacks into harmless groundouts and fly balls.

Brenly marveled at the way Glavine was able to tailor his pitches so the batters would be likely to hit where the defense was playing.

``Tom Glavine was every bit as spectacular in his own right as Randy Johnson was, if you ask me,'' Brenly said. ``He pitched right to the strength of his defense. That's pretty crafty.''

Glavine tied teammate John Smoltz's major league record with his 12th postseason victory. Glavine also has 12 postseason losses, tied with teammate Greg Maddux for the most ever.

Arizona starter Miguel Batista allowed only two hits in seven innings, but both were homers and that was all the support Glavine needed in his 29th postseason start.

Marcus Giles, who came within a foot or less of hitting two homers against Johnson in Game 1 Tuesday, homered on the game's first pitch to give Atlanta the quickest 1-0 lead possible.

Batista retired 13 in a row in one stretch and didn't allow another hit until Lopez's first-pitch homer off the right-field foul pole in the seventh put the Braves up 3-1. Batista walked Andruw Jones on four pitches right before allowing the homer.

``As soon as I stepped into the batter's box, I was shooting for right field all the way,'' Lopez said. ``The first pitch around the plate, I was going to swing as hard as I can.''

Both Batista and Brenly said the pitch was well off the plate, making it a tough one to hit out of the park.

``You can throw that pitch 30 times and if he hits it once, that's not bad,'' Batista said. ``Look at it, it was 2 1/2 inches off the plate. He was probably just looking for it and got the good part of the bat on it.''

Said Brenly, ``Not many guys hit that pitch out of the park.''

The home run silenced the pom-pon waving crowd of 49,334 _ the second largest in Bank One Ballpark history.

The crowd went wild moments earlier when Matt Williams' two-out single tied the game at 1 in the sixth after the Diamondbacks squandered scoring threats in the first and fifth. It was the first run Glavine allowed in 14 innings this postseason.

Notes: Arizona SS Tony Womack, who has a career .077 average against Glavine, missed the game with a sore right calf.... The only larger crowd at Bank One Ballpark was 49,584 for Game 1 of Arizona's division series against the New York Mets in 1999. ... The Diamondbacks have 13 runs in seven playoff games.