SAN FRANCISCO -- The Atlanta Braves know manager Bobby Cox
will be back for Game 3 of the NL Division Series after making an
early exit following yet another ejection.
They don't know when closer Billy Wagner will be back.
Cox and Wagner both made early exits in Game 2 against San
Francisco on Friday night, missing the end of the Braves' 5-4
victory in 11 innings over the Giants that evened the best-of-five
series at one win apiece.
Cox was ejected from a postseason game for the third time after
arguing a call at first base with umpire Paul Emmel in the second
Wagner lasted just two batters in the 10th inning before leaving
with a left oblique injury.
"I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow," Wagner said. "I know
it's pretty sore now. I just have to come in tomorrow and do what
they say and hopefully if I'm not able to go this round or next
round they'll do well enough to get to the World Series. Hopefully
I'll be all right."
While Cox will be back in the dugout for Game 3 on Sunday in
Atlanta, this could have been Wagner's final appearance in the
majors depending on the severity of the injury and how long the
Braves last in the postseason.
"We're not going to write him off yet," Cox said. "He's
probably done for this series. We're not sure. It's an oblique. For
Billy to come off the mound it had to be hurting pretty bad.
Obliques generally take a while."
Wagner first grabbed at his side after chasing pinch-hitter
Edgar Renteria's bunt single to start the 10th. The left-hander
then fielded Andres Torres' sacrifice bunt back to the mound, threw
to first for the out and immediately grabbed at the area near his
left hip before crumbling to his knees.
"I started to go down to get the ball and I saw Troy in the
corner of my eye and that's when I tried to get out of the way and
I felt it pinch," Wagner said of the first bunt. "I thought I
might have a little cramp. When he bunted the ball back, I couldn't
move. That was a sure double play ball. So when I turned to throw
to first I really don't know how I got it to first."
The Braves bullpen did fine on this night without much help from
Wagner, throwing seven scoreless innings after Tommy Hanson was
knocked out early. Rookie Craig Kimbrel was especially sharp,
striking out four while retiring all six batters in the eighth and
"I'm probably the worst one out there compared to what they're
facing," Wagner said. "I wouldn't want to face our bullpen. You
have unknowns out there that don't have patterns. Fourteen years of
Billy Wagner, you know what's coming. You don't know what Kimbrell,
Dunn and Venters are going to do. They're very capable of doing
whatever skip asks. I have all the faith in the world in them."
Wagner, though, had one of his best seasons ever. He allowed
just 38 hits and struck out 104 batters in 69 1/3 innings,
recording a 1.43 ERA and saving 37 games.
"He's a huge reason we're in the position we are," catcher
Brian McCann said. "You just can't replace a Billy Wagner, you
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.