10/02/2003 12:21 AM ET
Different approach works vs. Cubs
ATLANTA -- The Braves had as many base hits after two batters on Wednesday as they did after nine innings on Tuesday. After being dominated by Kerry Wood in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, Atlanta continued to display mastery over young righty Carlos Zambrano.
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
Not that they dominated Zambrano -- far from it. Contrary to their usual style, the Braves rapped out single after single. That's a tough way to score, and they weren't able to pile on runs. But five runs were enough for a win and a split at home.
"Everybody knows we can hit the ball," said Andruw Jones, who went 0-for-3 on Tuesday but drove in a run with a single on Wednesday. "It's just a matter of time. Kerry Wood pitched really good yesterday. Zambrano pitched good today too, but we had an opportunity to score some runs and we took advantage."
Jones played a part in a significant turnaround for the heart of the Atlanta order. The Nos. 3-6 hitters in the lineup went 1-for-14 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was a more typical 6-for-16, with two runs and two RBIs. That's still not the Bashin' Braves of the regular season, but Zambrano is no slouch after all.
"With his movement, he's a tough guy to zone in on," said Chipper Jones, who singled, drove in a run and scored a run. "So what you've got to do is cut down your swing and try to cut down on his strikeouts and put the ball in play. Usually with a guy throwing 98 miles an hour, if you put it in play, your odds of it falling are pretty good. I think that's what we tried to do."
Many of the Braves' base hits went up the middle and to the opposite field, representing something of a change in approach.
"We had a bad approach [Tuesday]," Andruw Jones said. "I think we were too anxious, trying to do too much, the first game. T.P. [hitting coach Terry Pendleton] told us just to go out there and see the ball and try to put the ball in play. Those guys throw too hard. You just have to make contact and the ball will go where you need it to go."
It gets even tougher on Friday. The Braves have to hit Mark Prior, a co-favorite for the NL Cy Young Award and at least arguably the best pitcher in the league. But they took a step forward, in confidence and production.
"The first night we've got to give a lot of credit to Kerry Wood," said Javy Lopez, who led the charge with three singles. "He was pretty nasty and it was hard for us to hit him. Tonight, Zambrano, he still was pretty tough for us, but we saw more pitches around the plate.
"We got pretty good hits off of him off good pitches, pitches that normally it's pretty hard for us to hit. But we were fortunate to find the hole and get the base hit."
Apparently good pitching doesn't always beat good hitting.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.