Thome hit two homers to take the league lead with 47 and scored
the winning run in the 10th inning, leading Philadelphia past NL
East champion Atlanta 7-6 Saturday in the next-to-last game at
Javy Lopez hit his major league-record 42nd homer as a catcher
this season, and Julio Franco and Gary Sheffield also went deep for
the Braves, who lost ground in their pursuit of home-field
advantage throughout the playoffs.
"He's unbelievable," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said of
Thome, in his first season with the Phillies after 10 years with
Cleveland. "He continues to rise to the occasion. He's given the
fans their money's worth and he's given the Phillies their money's
Atlanta entered with a one-game lead over San Francisco for the
NL's best record. The Giants played a doubleheader against Los
Angeles on Saturday.
The Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak by rallying to tie
the game in the ninth against closer John Smoltz, who had converted
45 of 48 save chances this season.
"I'll be replaying this one over and over," Smoltz said. "I
threw a lot more pitches than I wanted to."
Thome led off the 10th with a double off Ray King (3-4). He
moved to third when Pat Burrell lined out to right off Trey Hodges
and scored on Chase Utley's RBI single. Utley hit a sharp grounder
off the glove of shortstop Jesse Garcia, who made a dive to his
Rheal Cormier (8-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for the Phillies.
"I was just trying to hit a sacrifice fly or get a single,"
Atlanta led 6-4 in the ninth. But Jimmy Rollins' two-out double
off the right-field wall drove in Jason Michaels. Bobby Abreu then
lined a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap, scoring Rollins
to tie it at 6.
The Phillies, atop the NL wild-card standings a week ago, were
eliminated from the playoff race Thursday night after being swept
by Florida. They are closing out the Vet this weekend after 33
seasons, and will move into Citizens Bank Park next year.
"As special as this weekend is and all the people here,
hopefully we can end it on a good note," Thome said.
Lopez's homer in the second inning broke Todd Hundley's 1996
mark for the position. Lopez also has one homer as a pinch-hitter,
giving him 43 overall.
He drove a 2-1 pitch from Amaury Telemaco over the left-field
wall in the second inning. Lopez stood at the plate briefly,
admiring his blast, then tossed his bat and jogged slowly around
Braves starter Mike Hampton pitched two innings in his final
tuneup for next week's Game 2 start in the playoffs. Hampton threw
16 pitches, giving up one run and three hits.
Telemaco gave up three runs and four hits in two innings in his
shortest start for the Phillies this season.
Thome, who entered tied with Milwaukee's Richie Sexson and San
Francisco's Barry Bonds for the NL lead in homers, cut it to 3-1
with his solo shot in the second. A solo shot off Cunnane in the
eighth drew the Phillies to 5-4.
"You don't imagine coming to a new league and hitting that many
homers," said Thome, who pulled to within one homer of tying Mike
Schmidt's franchise record set in 1980.
An RBI double by Andruw Jones in the third off Brandon Duckworth
gave the Braves a 4-1 lead. Sheffield's 39th homer in the fifth off
Duckworth made it 5-1.<
^Notes: The All-Vet team was introduced to the sellout crowd of
58,303 before the game. It included two Hall of Famers: 3B Schmidt
and LHP Steve Carlton. Tug McGraw, who has brain cancer, was the
team's closer. He received a loud ovation as he jogged onto the
field. ... Cy Young Award winners John Denny and Steve Bedrosian
threw out the first pitches. .... Phillies RHP Ryan Madson made his
big league debut, pitching two perfect innings. INF Anderson
Machado made his debut, stealing a base as a pinch-runner.