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Thomson leaves after four pitches10/09/2004 1:32 PM ET
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The lingering left oblique injury that has plagued Braves right-hander John Thomson resurfaced in the first inning on Saturday afternoon.
Thomson aggravated his left side muscle and was taken out of Game 3 of the National League Division Series with the Astros after just four pitches. The Astros won, 8-5, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Regardless of how far the Braves go in the playoffs, Thomson's season is over. Thomson said he will need six to eight weeks to recover, so he would be unable to pitch should the Braves rebound to take the series and advance to the NLCS.
"It's my first postseason," Thomson said. "It was a pivotal game to go up 2-1 or go down 2-1, and to only throw four pitches. It doesn't matter how far we go on, I'm not going to be able to pitch the rest of the postseason."
Initially, Thomson strained his side in the third inning of an Oct. 2 start at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.
"It was worse than when it happened in Chicago," Thomson said. "It popped like three times."
Braves manager Bobby Cox was hopeful the 14-game winner was healthy enough to battle through. Thomson was encouraged by recent bullpen throwing sessions, but it didn't take long for him to experience discomfort on Saturday.
Thomson's first pitch was a hard-hit grounder by Craig Biggio directly at shortstop Rafael Furcal. Carlos Beltran then crushed the next pitch off the wall in center field for a double.
Thomson threw two straight balls to Jeff Bagwell. After the second pitch, a fastball way out of the zone, Cox and trainer Jeff Porter trotted to the mound to check on the health of the Atlanta right-hander. Catcher Johnny Estrada noticed Thomson flinch in pain and he immediately came to the mound.
"The second pitch to Bagwell, that's the only time it hurt," Thomson said. "It didn't hurt at all in the bullpen when I was getting ready. It didn't hurt when I was warming up. The ball I threw to Beltran was up, but it didn't hurt. The slider to Bagwell didn't hurt. But that fastball I threw to him is when it just did not feel good at all. I don't know how to explain it. It just felt like three pops.
"I was walking down the stairs to come back to the dugout. If I took a turn or a deep breath or something, it grabbed me again."
In the past, Thomson has torn a labrum, but the pain didn't compare to how he felt Saturday.
"I've pitched with a torn labrum before and this is worse," Thomson said.
"I just saw him wince, I knew something had to be wrong," Estrada said.
Paul Byrd relieved Thomson and after walking Bagwell, escaped the inning without allowing a run.
Thomson's line was one-third of an inning, one hit and one walk.
"His side sessions, he felt great warming up in the 'pen," Cox said. "The one pitch that he came out on is the only time it bothered him. He pulled it. There's no way he could have thrown."
Thomson was 14-8 with a 3.72 ERA in the regular season, throwing 198 1/3 innings.
The one-third of an inning outing matches Steve Avery for the shortest stint by a starter in Braves history. Avery went one-third of an inning in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Pirates on Oct. 11, 1992.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.