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.
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.
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.
April 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.
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
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.