Braves 4-12 in last 16 home playoff games

Updated: October 12, 2004, 9:11 AM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Those who criticized the Atlanta Braves for cashing in on only one of five World Series appearances in the 1990s should at least give those teams credit for making it that far.

The Braves of the 2000s can only dream of a World Series loss.

Braves Loss
Getty ImagesAnother season ends with an empty feeling for the Braves and their fans.

With Monday night's 12-3 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 5, the Braves have been eliminated in the NL division series in three consecutive years and four of five.

And while the Braves made this playoff series interesting with a gritty Game 4 comeback in Houston on Sunday, that road resolve only set up the home fans for more misery. For a fifth straight year, Atlanta fans watched a visiting team celebrate after eliminating the Braves.

"The older guys don't want to sit there and watch it," said third baseman Chipper Jones, one of the team's veterans. "It's old hat; we've been through it before. Guys like Chucky (Thomas) and Adam (LaRoche), they need to feel that sting. That will motivate them in the offseason."

The 2003 Cubs, 2002 Giants and 2000 Cardinals clinched their first-round wins in Atlanta, and Arizona wrapped up its 2001 NL pennant at Turner Field.

The Braves' first season in Turner Field was 1997, and in seven of their eight years in "The Ted" the Braves have been eliminated from the postseason at home. The lone exception was 1999, when the Braves were swept in the World Series by the Yankees, and Game 4 was played in New York.

The Braves are 4-12 in their last 16 home postseason games, including a 1-2 home record in this series.

Jaret Wright lost for the second time in the series. Though he had been through the postseason grind before with Cleveland in 1997, he said the pain was new and unique.

"It's never fun to lose," Wright said. "To go out there and lay it on the line, you can't describe it."

Wright gave up four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"Trying to shut down a team like that is a tough job," he said. "We gave it all we had."

Reliever Chris Reitsma gave up four runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning, leaving him with an 18.00 ERA for the series.

"It doesn't feel good," Reitsma said. "It's frustrating to come to this point and lose. It's a pretty bad feeling."

Reitsma had two outs before giving up a two-strike, run-scoring single to Craig Biggio.

"On that flare to right, he was just protecting the plate," Reitsma said. "That wasn't a bad pitch."

The older guys don't want to sit there and watch it. It's old hat; we've been through it before. Guys like Chucky (Thomas) and Adam (LaRoche), they need to feel that sting. That will motivate them in the offseason.
Chipper Jones

Carlos Beltran added an RBI single before Jeff Bagwell added a two-run homer for an 8-2 lead.

"We just ran out of gas," Jones said. "It was a good game for seven innings and then all of a sudden the floodgates opened."

Jones predicted the Astros "are going to give the Cardinals everything they want in the NLCS."

The Braves, who have at times played before empty seats in the playoffs in recent years, can't blame their fans for lack of support Monday. A Turner Field sellout crowd of 54,068 show up, the second-largest crowd in Atlanta history, but Braves' fans had few occasions to chant and chop their familiar red foam tomahawks.

The Braves' 13th consecutive division flag has been mounted in left field, but the division dynasty was again reduced to postseason rubble as the wild-card Astros won their first postseason series.

Rafael Furcal and Johnny Estrada stirred the fans with home runs in the fifth inning, pulling the Braves to 3-2. But those were the only Atlanta runners to touch third base until the seventh, when Estrada, hitting cleanup for only the 12th time this year, drove in Furcal.

"It just doesn't seem fitting for the postseason to end like this," Jones said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press