Brown dominates as San Diego goes up 2-0
ATLANTA - Maybe the Atlanta Braves should just sign Kevin Brown this winter. That way, they wouldn't have to worry about him beating them each fall.
The lifelong Georgia resident picked up exactly where he left off last October, pitching another gem at Turner Field to give the San Diego Padres a 3-0 win last night and a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series.
Brown, who won twice at Atlanta in the 1997 NLCS while with Florida, shut down the Braves on only three singles. Relying on his heavy sinker and a nasty fastball in the mid-90s mph, he struck out 11 and lowered his ERA this postseason to 0.38 in three starts.
''It's definitely sweet when you have success here,'' Brown said. ''I need to find some wood to knock on. I feel pretty good right now.''
Brown outdueled Tom Glavine and helped with his bat, too. He singled with two outs in the sixth inning to set up Quilvio Veras' RBI single, and also singled and scored in a two-run ninth.
''They were timely,'' he said. ''That's one of the reasons I really enjoy the National League play. You don't always swing the bat good, but once in a blue moon, you get a chance to contribute.''
The Padres traded three prospects to Florida in the offseason to get Brown, and his postseason performances against Houston and now Atlanta have been well worth it.
Brown is eligible for free agency after this season and perhaps the Braves, despite their great rotation, would be better off getting the right hander and keeping him out of the way.
''I knew when we got him that he would make a big difference, but I didn't know he would make this kind of impact,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ''When Kevin Brown is on, he's as tough as any pitcher in the game. Right now, he's locked in.''
San Diego won without 50-homer man Greg Vaughn, out of the starting lineup for 3-4 days because of a strained left quadriceps. Game 1 star Ruben Rivera took his place, but Brown was all the Padres needed on this night.
A crowd of 43,083, about 8,000 short of a sellout, spent the last couple of innings booing the Braves' futility against Brown.
''We hit two balls good all night,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''Against us, this is the best I've seen him.''
Atlanta is appearing in its seventh straight NLCS, but never has faced an 0-2 deficit. In fact, no team has ever lost the first two games at home and come back to win a league championship series since the best-of-7 format began in 1985.
Game 3 will be tomorrow at San Diego, with Greg Maddux pitching for the Braves against Sterling Hitchcock. The Padres are hoping for a big weekend at home to reach the World Series for only the second time, the first in 1984.
''We can't feel good about being 0-2, but we have the type of club and pitching that we could easily reel off four in a row,'' Cox said.