Mordecai's clutch pinch hit lifts Atlanta past Colorado

The Associated Press

DENVER Leave it to the Atlanta Braves to find the most obscure heroes.

Remember Francisco Cabrera, whose pinch-hit, two-out single in the ninth sent the Braves to their second straight World Series in 1992? Meet rookie Mike Mordecai.

Mordecai, who had only 75 at-bats this season, knocked in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the ninth last night, helping rally the Braves past the Colorado Rockies 7-4 and sending Atlanta home with a 2-0 lead in their NL playoff series.

Asked about Mordecai's relative anonymity, Braves manager Bobby Cox said: ''All of our players know who Mordy is. He works hard, he knows who he's going to face. He clutched it in.''

Mordecai, whose hit off Darren Holmes came on a 3-0 count, said he was surprised he was given the green light.

''But Bobby knows I can hit the fastball, and he's going to give me a chance to swing the bat in that situation,'' said Mordecai, who had a pair of game-winning, last at-bat hits this season, including one against Colorado on Aug. 13, also off Holmes.

For the Braves, it was another great escape against the Rockies. For the second straight game, Atlanta couldn't put away the Rockies until the ninth.

The latest bit of theatrics came courtesy of Mordecai and Fred McGriff, whose RBI single tied the score in the ninth. The Rockies compounded their troubles by making an error that brought in two more runs.

On Tuesday night, the Braves won 5-4, with the Rockies loading the bases in the ninth and forced to use a pitcher to pinch-hit in their final at-bat.

''Our pitching has kept us in these games,'' Cox said. ''Tommy Glavine can't pitch any better than he did tonight. He made only one bad pitch.''

Larry Walker's three-run homer and Andres Galarraga's RBI single had given Colorado a 4-3 lead going to the ninth last night, overcoming a pair of solo homers by Marquis Grissom, who increased his series total to three.

But Chipper Jones led off the ninth by slicing a double down the left-field line off Curtis Leskanic.

Mike Munoz then gave up a bloop single to McGriff, which scored Jones. David Justice flied out, and Darren Holmes struck out Javy Lopez.

Mike Devereaux then singled to center, with McGriff taking second, and Mordecai batting for pitcher Alejandro Pena lined a single to center to drive home the go-ahead run.

Mordecai took second on the throw home. Rafael Belliard then grounded to second, but Eric Young's throw to first was errant, letting in two more runs.

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