BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Castillo, Alou lift Mets


The Mets and Braves played a game Wednesday night that would have been more appropriate for the postseason, a nifty pitchers' duel between John Smoltz and Orlando Hernandez that turned into a late-inning bullpen battle, one the Mets pulled out on clutch hits by Luis Castillo and Moises Alou.

The Braves did not go quietly, trailing by a run in their last turn at-bat, loading the bases with nobody out. We had the Elias Sports Bureau investigate scenarios in which teams trailed by a run with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning. In each of the four previous instances this season, the team at the plate scored at least once. That held true until last night, when Mets closer Billy Wagner induced a force play at home, then got the slumping Andruw Jones to ground into a game-ending double play to give the Mets a 4-3 win.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP: BRAVES-METS
• The Mets win for fourth time in 11 meetings with Braves this season, their first against Atlanta in a game started by someone other than Oliver Perez.
• Newcomer Luis Castillo's game-tying two-run single in the seventh inning gave him a .563 batting average (9-for-16) in his last four games.
• The Mets improved their MLB-best record in one-run games to 15-6, 12-1 at home.
Rafael Soriano allowed the go-ahead home run to Moises Alou (324th of his career, tying former Mets catcher Gary Carter and Lance Parrish for 93rd all time). Soriano has given up 10 homers in 51 2/3 innings this season. The Braves have lost the last four games in which Soriano has allowed a homer.

FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY
Braves at Mets, 12:10 ET: Atlanta right-hander Tim Hudson (12-5, 2.95) is 8-1 with a 2.02 ERA following an Atlanta loss. John Maine (12-6, 3.27), who leads the Mets in wins and ranks second in strikeouts (114), was roughed up by the Cubs in his last start, leaving after allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Devil Rays at Tigers, 1:05 ET: Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir (8-7, 3.72) has been exceptional in his last five starts, going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA. Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman (10-4, 4.50) has not been as fortunate: He's 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in his last three starts.

Padres at Cardinals, 8:10: Chris Young (9-3, 1.82) is set to make his first start since June 24, when an oblique injury put him on the disabled list. Traded to the St. Louis late last month, Joel Pineiro (0-1, 7.20) makes his second start for the Cardinals.

• Thursday's complete list of probable starters

GREATEST FRANCHISE HOME RUNS
Over the next two weeks, "Baseball Tonight" will be celebrating the top home runs in the history of each current major league franchise. There will be video tributes, discussion and memorable anecdotes for all 30 squads. You can catch each home run segment on "Baseball Tonight" and come here the next morning for a recap of each day's selections.

Atlanta Braves


Atlanta BravesApril 8, 1974: Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's all-time home run record with his 715th career home run. The record-setting blast came against Dodgers pitcher Al Downing in the fourth inning of the home opener at Fulton County Stadium. Aaron had tied the record on Opening Day at Cincinnati.

Oct. 6, 1957: En route to an upset over the defending champion Yankees, Eddie Mathews slugged a two-run, walk-off home run to win World Series Game 4, 7-5. The Braves went on to win the series in seven games, with Mathews driving in two runs in the deciding game and stepping on third base for a force play for the final out of the series.

Oct. 28, 1995: The last time the Braves won the World Series David Justice hit the clinching home run in a 1-0 win over the Indians in Game 6. The homer gave the Braves their last title as they defeated the Indians 4-2.

Franchise leaders: Hank Aaron, 733; Eddie Mathews, 493; Chipper Jones, 375; Dale Murphy, 371; and Andruw Jones, 363.

Single-season leader: Andruw Jones, 51 (2005)

Did You Know? Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews homered in the same game 75 times, the most by any pair of teammates in major league history.

Los Angeles Dodgers


Los Angeles Dodgers Oct. 15, 1988: Hobbled MVP Kirk Gibson hits a two-run, pinch-hit home run off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley with two outs in the ninth inning in Game 1 of the World Series, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 victory and propelling them to an unlikely upset of the Athletics.

Sept. 30, 1951: The Dodgers needed a win on the final day of the 1951 season to avoid losing the pennant to the Giants. Their road game against the Phillies lasted 14 innings and featured both tremendous defense and offense from Jackie Robinson, who made a spectacular game-saving play in extra innings, then hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the 14th.

Oct. 2, 2004: The season came down to the final two days, and the Dodgers clinched the NL West title in ultra-dramatic fashion against the Giants. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Los Angeles rallied for seven runs, the last four coming on Steve Finley's walk-off grand slam against reliever Wayne Franklin.

Franchise leaders: Duke Snider, 389; Gil Hodges, 361; Eric Karros, 270; Roy Campanella, 242; Ron Cey, 228.

Single-season leader: Shawn Green, 49 (2001)

Did You Know? The first team to have four players -- Steve Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32), Dusty Baker (30) and Ron Cey (30) -- hit 30-plus home runs in a season was the 1977 Dodgers. Baker hit No. 30 against J.R. Richard (he was .159 with one home run vs. Richard in 69 career at-bats) in his final at-bat of the season.

NY STYLE
Luis Castillo and Moises Alou power the Mets to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Atlanta.

IN THE ZONE
Colorado Rockies The Rockies had their best day at the plate in nearly two years, routing the slumping Brewers 19-4 and completing a three-game sweep. Garrett Atkins matched his career high with six RBIs and had four of Colorado's 23 hits, the club's biggest day at the plate since a 20-1 victory over San Diego on Sept. 20, 2005, when the Rockies also had 23 hits.
ROYAL BEATDOWN
Twins ace Johan Santana improves to 9-0 in his last 12 starts against Kansas City.

NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
GOOD
Rob Bowen went deep from both sides of the plate for his first career multihomer game as the Athletics beat the Rangers 6-3. It was the sixth time an Oakland player homered from both sides. Nick Swisher was the last on at April 23, at Baltimore.
BAD
Chien-Ming Wang Chien-Ming Wang allowed a career-high eight runs and nine hits over 2 2/3 innings in the Yanks' 15-4 loss to the Jays. He threw 59 pitches, 28 for strikes.
UGLY
Los Angeles Dodgers The Dodgers managed just four hits in a 1-0 loss at Cincinnnati that left Los Angeles blanked for the third game in a row for the first time since 1966. The Dodgers have lost a season-high six in a row and been shut out in four of the last five.
NEWS AND NOTES
Pedro MartinezPedro Martinez struggled through three innings of his first rehab start and was pulled before reaching his target pitch count of 80. Martinez gave up five runs and six hits in the Class A St. Lucie Mets' game against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Martinez struck out five and threw 44 of his 63 pitches for strikes. His fastball topped out at 89 mph and averaged 86.

David Wells • The Padres will cut ties with the struggling David Wells on Thursday in order to activate All-Star Chris Young from the disabled list. "If he still wants to play, we'll designate him for assignment and see if other clubs have interest, or if he wants to hang them up, he can retire," GM Kevin Towers told The Associated Press by phone. Wells was 0-3 with a 14.33 ERA in his last four starts, and 5-8 with a 5.54 ERA overall this season.

• The Hall of Fame is getting all kinds of 756 collectibles from Barry Bonds' history-making night. Bonds handed over his batting helmets from his 755th homer Saturday as well as from No. 756 that he hit Tuesday night to break Hank Aaron's 33-year-old record -- and that's just the start. The Hall of Fame also received three game-used baseballs: one signed by the Giants' starting nine and manager Bruce Bochy; one signed by the Washington Nationals' starters and manager Manny Acta; and the third signed by the umpiring crew.

• Blue Jays third-base coach Brian Butterfield accused the Yankees of making "two terrible slides" into second base during the first two games of their current series. Before Wednesday's series finale, Butterfield became upset when talking about Johnny Damon's slide into second baseman Aaron Hill on Monday Shelley Duncan's takeout of shortstop John McDonald on Tuesday. "Two terrible slides," Butterfield said. "They're terrible, if they don't agree with that, they're looking through different colored glasses."


 

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