Final

Series: Game 3 of 4

Atlanta leads 3-0 (as of 9/28)

Game 1: Friday, September 27
Atlanta 3Final
New York 1
Game 2: Friday, September 27
Atlanta 7Final
New York 4
Game 3: Saturday, September 28
Atlanta 5Final
New York 2
Game 4: Sunday, September 29
Atlanta 1Final
New York 6

Braves 5

(101-58, 49-30 away)

Mets 2

(74-86, 37-43 home)

    7:10 PM ET, September 28, 2002

    Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 104000000 5 - -
    NYM 100100000 2 - -

    W: T. Hodges (2-0)

    L: A. Leiter (13-13)

    S: J. Smoltz (55)

    Chipper: 100-plus RBI for seven straight seasons

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine did just what they needed to get ready for the postseason.

    Chipper Jones
    Chipper Jones

    Jones reached 100 RBI for the seventh straight season and Glavine tuned up for his Game 1 start as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-2 on Saturday night.

    "It's a big relief,'' Jones said. "It had been weighing on me the closer and closer I got. When you think about what kind of company it puts me in, it's special. I'm extremely happy.''

    John Smoltz earned his 55th save and Vinny Castilla hit a two-run homer for the Braves, who found out shortly after taking the field that they would open the playoffs against San Francisco on Wednesday at Turner Field.

    The Giants clinched the NL wild card by beating Houston 5-2 Saturday afternoon.

    "They're really a great team,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "They have great starting pitching, a great bullpen and Barry Bonds. It doesn't take much more than that.''

    Glavine was limited to two innings to make sure he would be fresh for the playoff opener after only three days' rest. He gave up one run and three hits in two innings of the 44-pitch outing.

    "I just wanted to stay comfortable and not overextend myself,'' Glavine said. "Three days' rest is not a big deal but you don't want to do it after you struggle and battle. I didn't do that today so I'm right where I want to be.''

    Greg Maddux will pitch Game 2 against the Giants followed by Kevin Millwood.

    What the Mets hoped was supposed to be a thrilling late-season game between division rivals looked more like a spring training matchup.

    New York sat many of its regulars, while Cox took Jones, Glavine, Castilla, Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Rafael Furcal all out before the end of the sixth inning.

    The Mets, who clinched their first last-place season in nine years on Friday, lost their sixth straight game.

    Al Leiter (13-13) allowed five runs and nine hits in four innings to set a career worst for losses in a season. He was winless in his final seven starts at home since July 16.

    "The last couple of weeks guys have been getting their stuff and thinking about the offseason and travel plans,'' Leiter said. "It's difficult to eliminate those external distractions.''

    Trey Hodges (2-0) pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Smoltz, who set the NL record for saves on Friday, got three outs to move two behind Bobby Thigpen's major league record of 57 for the White Sox in 1990. With only one game left, Smoltz will not be able to tie the record.

    The Braves, who were shut out by Leiter earlier this month, broke through in the first inning when Lopez walked with the bases loaded.

    Mo Vaughn's RBI double in the bottom half tied it before the Braves scored four runs in the third, including Castilla's homer -- his third since June 11 and 12th of the season.

    "I would like to have seen him finish better,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said of Leiter. "He was feeling good. He had some pitches in the middle of the plate and they hit them.''

    Chipper Jones had an RBI single in the inning to become the fifth NL player to reach 100 in seven straight years. He joined Mel Ott, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa (eight times each) and Gil Hodges (seven).

    Sheffield ran aggressively on the play to score from second when left fielder Roger Cedeno's throw was off-line.

    Jones struck out in the first inning after a double steal by Furcal and Sheffield put runners on second and third with one out.

    "I told him before the game that whatever I had to do to get on base I would,'' Sheffield said. "I wanted to score that run for him.''

    Mets fans, who were called "stupid'' by shortstop Rey Ordonez in quotes published in Saturday's New York Post, were chanting "Bobby's got to go! Bobby's got to go!'' late in the game in a message to Valentine.

    Game notes


    Leiter had 12 losses in 1999 and 1996. ... LHP Andrew Pratt allowed four walks and one run in 1 1/3 innings of his major league debut for the Braves. ... Atlanta has won 49 straight games Smoltz has pitched in -- the longest streak since Oakland won 52 straight games that Dennis Eckersley appeared in 1992.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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