Braves Clinch NL East Title, 7-1

Wednesday, September 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK – The Atlanta Braves clinched the NL East to win their record ninth straight division title, beating the New York Mets, 7-1, Tuesday night behind John Burkett's pitching and Chipper Jones' home run.

With John Rocker back at Shea Stadium – and dodging a beer bottle on the mound – Atlanta prevented the Mets from wrapping up the wild card spot.

Atlanta began the night with a magic number of three over New York, leading many to believe it could do no better than ensure a tie for division championship.

In fact, several Braves players wondered about their standing, asking aloud in the clubhouse whether they could clinch and dubious that it could be done. Closer to the first pitch, though, they seemed clued in.

According to baseball's new math in the wild-card era, here's why the Braves clinched: At 94-63 with five games left, the Braves are assured of at least a tie with the Mets (89-68).

If they finish even and both are in the playoffs, the division winner is determined by head-to-head record. Atlanta is 7-4 against New York with only two games left.

The Braves won their fourth in a row and stopped the Mets' three-game losing streak.

The Braves, who celebrated only as if it were another regular-season win, begin the playoffs on either Oct. 3 or Oct. 4 against either St. Louis or San Francisco.

Atlanta won the NL West from 1991-93 and, after a strike wiped out the end of the 1994 season, has won six consecutive NL East championships.

Burkett (10-6) improved to 3-0 against the Mets this season, allowing three hits in six innings.