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Braves' bullpen can't hold on to lead -- or the game

9/17/2003

MONTREAL (AP) -- Greg Maddux could only look on as his latest
shot at 15 wins slipped away. No matter, the Braves are ensured of
going to the postseason once again.

Maddux was denied the victory when Atlanta's bullpen failed to
hold a three-run lead, and the Montreal Expos beat the Braves 5-4
Tuesday night on Orlando Cabrera's run-scoring double in the 10th
inning.

"It's a part of the game," Maddux said. "Ten years ago I
might have finished it, who knows."

Hours later, the Braves (94-58) became the first major league
team this year to clinch a playoff berth when Los Angeles (80-69)
lost to Arizona. Florida (83-67) and Philadelphia (83-68) cannot
both match Atlanta in wins because they have five games against
each other.

The Braves can clinch the NL East title Wednesday night if they beat Montreal and Philadelphia beats Florida. It would be the Braves' 12th straight division title (some were NL West titles), the most ever in the four major professional sports:

At this point, the Braves at worst would finish with the best
second-place record in the NL and win the wild card. Their magic number for clinching the division is two.

"It's not about me or any other one guy here," Maddux said.
"It's about what we do in the next two weeks to get ready for the
postseason -- period."

Maddux, trying to become the first pitcher to win 15 or more
games in 16 consecutive seasons, allowed one run and four hits in
seven innings, including three doubles. Maddux, making his second
attempt to win No. 15, is tied with Cy Young at 15 straight 15-win
seasons.

"You tip your hat to the other team," Maddux said. "Cabrera
clutched up and got a big double there."

Javy Lopez caught Maddux in a regular-season game for the first
time since Sept. 8, 1998.

Atlanta led 4-1 before Vladimir Guererro's RBI single in the
eighth off Jaret Wright.

Ron Calloway hit a leadoff double off Will Cunnane in the ninth
and scored on Brian Schneider's one-out RBI double. Jose Macias hit
an infield single as second baseman Marcus Giles knocked down the
ball with a dive, and Brad Wilkerson tied the score with a
sacrifice fly off Kent Mercker.

"It's always good to win, and any time you help the team win,
it's satisfying," Calloway said.

Then in the 10th, Guerrero drew a one-out walk off Roberto
Hernandez (5-3) in the 10th and slid home with the winning run on
Cabrera's liner to the right-field corner.

"We let them back in the game in the eighth, and they took
advantage in the ninth and 10th," Chipper Jones said. "We haven't
been getting a lot of consistency once we get past our starters.
Hopefully, that will solidify before the end of the season."

Rocky Biddle (5-8) pitched the 10th, striking out Andruw Jones
and retiring pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa on a groundout to escape a
bases-loaded jam.

"Rocky did a tremendous job," Expos manager Frank Robinson
said. "He got out of a jam, and that might be good for his psyche
and getting him back on track."

Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones homered on back-to-back pitches
from Tomo Ohka in the seventh inning.

Chipper Jones drove in three runs to give him 101 RBI and tied
a National League record with his eighth straight 100-RBI season,
joining Mel Ott, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.

Montreal, in its second-to-last home game, surpassed 1 million
in home attendance for the first time in six years. A crowd of
9,843 raised the Expos' total to 1,008,113 -- including 22 home
games that were moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Todd Zeile's sacrifice fly in the seventh drove in Montreal's
first run, and Chipper Jones hit a two-run single in the eighth off
Luis Ayala.

Game notes
It was the 51st time overall Maddux and Lopez have been
batterymates during the regular season. ... It was the sixth time
this season Atlanta has hit consecutive homers, including three in
a row twice. ... Ohka knocked down Rafael Furcal's grounder back to
the mound and threw a two-hopper from his knees to 1B Brad
Wilkerson for the first out of the third. ... The Expos have drawn
695,231 in 58 games at Olympic Stadium, an average of 11,987 per
game in Montreal.