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  Tuesday, Oct. 19 8:05pm ET
Braves walk to fifth World Series of '90s

ATLANTA (AP) -- It was amazin' all right -- and in the end, it was the Atlanta Braves who came up with the miracle.

Andruw Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Kenny Rogers with one out in the 11th inning and the Braves somehow survived a final string of Mets comebacks, beating New York 10-9 Tuesday night to win the National League Championship Series 4-2.

Ryan Klesko
Ryan Klesko jumps for joy as the Braves score the series-winning run.

"We had chances to die and we didn't," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "There's more than one way to win a ballgame."

On a night that had even more drama than the Mets' 4-3, 15-inning victory Sunday at Shea Stadium, the teams gave a roaring, raucous crowd of 52,335 all it could handle in one of the most thrilling playoff games ever.

The Braves wrecked the Mets' hopes of a Subway Series and advanced to the World Series to face the New York Yankees. Game 1 in the rematch of the 1996 Series will be Saturday night at Turner Field.

The Mets, who trailed 5-0 in the first inning, nearly became the first team in postseason history to win three games in a row after losing the first three.

"I told them they played like champions," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We don't have a trophy, but they did everything they had to."

But after the Mets took a 9-8 lead on Todd Pratt's sacrifice fly in the 10th at exactly the stroke of midnight, the Braves tied it in the bottom of the inning on pinch-hitter Ozzie Guillen's single.

Then in the 11th, Gerald Williams led off with a double to left off Rogers and moved up on Bret Boone's sacrifice. Intentional walks to Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan loaded the bases for Andruw Jones, and he worked the count full before taking a ball high and outside. He never lifted the bat off his shoulder.

Every game a hero
With Randall Simon not on the playoff roster, Bobby Cox had to send in Ozzie Guillen to pinch-hit for Walt Weiss in the bottom of the 10th inning against flame-throwing Armando Benitez. That's .241-hitting Ozzie Guillen, who tied the game 9-9 with a single to right field, just past the reach of second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo.
Key number
Four. Number of balls Kenny Rogers threw to Andruw Jones with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 11th and the game tied. On a 3-2 count, Rogers threw a mediocre fastball high and outside. Gerald Williams, who had doubled to lead off the frame, walked in with the series-winning run.
Last word
"Oh, no!"
-- Bobby Valentine in the Mets' dugout after Rogers delivered the final pitch

Valentine slammed the railing on the top step of the dugout and shouted, "Oh, no!" when Rogers missed.

"I was just going out there, taking pitches until he threw me a strike," Jones said. "He didn't, and I took a walk."

The tension showed on both sides, as every player, coach and person in each dugout was up against the railing for the final batter. The crowd, including a healthy dose of Mets fans, shouted along in the fifth straight game of the NLCS decided by one run.

Russ Springer wound up the winning pitcher. Braves catcher Eddie Perez, a starter because Javy Lopez was out for the season, was MVP of the series. Perez was 10-for-20 with five RBI.

"We never could give up. They never gave up," Perez said.

Now the Braves get a chance to avenge their loss to the Yankees in the 1996 World Series. This marks the first time Series rivals have met in the regular season -- Atlanta went 2-1 at Yankee Stadium in interleague play right after the All-Star break.

"We've got another shot at them," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.

The Mets, four outs from elimination in Game 4 and two outs away in Game 5, almost found another way to win.

With "Why not?" written on a clubhouse board, they scored three times in the sixth to chase starter Kevin Millwood and make it 5-3. Mike Piazza, banged up and silent for most of the week, homered off reliever John Smoltz to tie it 7-7 in the seventh, capping a four-run outburst off Smoltz.

Both teams scored in the eighth -- the Mets on Melvin Mora's single, the Braves on Brian Hunter's single -- and each club added another run in the 10th off ace relievers John Rocker and Armando Benitez.

Smoltz had earned a save in Game 2 in his first major league relief appearance, but didn't have any off-speed stuff in this game. Given a 7-3 lead, the former Cy Young winner gave it right back on doubles by pinch-hitter Matt Franco and Rickey Henderson, an RBI single by John Olerud and Piazza's liner over the fence in right-center field.

Piazza was forced to leave Game 5 after 13 innings because of injuries to his hand, thumb and forearm. He was just 3-for-22 in the series before connecting.

Down 5-0, the Mets began yet another comeback bid with three runs in the sixth. Piazza had a sacrifice fly and Darryl Hamilton hit a two-run single that finished Millwood.

Reliever Terry Mulholland walked pinch-hitter Benny Agbayani and then shortstop Walt Weiss caught Rey Ordonez's line drive up the middle and outraced Hamilton to second base for a double play. Ordonez dropped his batting helmet and kicked it.

The Braves bounced back in a contentious bottom of the sixth for two runs and a 7-3 lead.

Jordan was hit on his injured right hand by Turk Wendell's first pitch. Jordan glared at the reliever and walked onto the grass part of the infield before plate umpire Jerry Crawford got between them.

The Braves eventually loaded the bases, and Jordan was forced out at the plate on Weiss' grounder -- with a price for the Mets. Jordan, a former NFL defensive back, slid hard and wiped out Piazza, who had no intention of trying for a double play.

Piazza and Jordan stared at each other and, with both dugouts on the brink of emptying, order was quickly restored. Jose Hernandez, batting for pinch-hitter Keith Lockhart, hit a two-run single off Dennis Cook.

Pitching on three days' rest for the only second time in his career, Mets starter Leiter looked lost. He hit two batters, walked another and made a wild throw on a comebacker and was pulled after six batters, retiring none of them.

Baseball Scoreboard

NY Mets Clubhouse

Atlanta Clubhouse

Mets vs. Braves series page

Neyer: A hero and a tragic ending

Ball Four: The fateful final pitch

Braves pushed to the limit, but come away victorious

Mets finally run out of miracles


 Eddie Perez says he tried to hit the ball better in the playoffs.
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 Gerald Williams discusses his game-winning run.
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 John Rocker says Game 6 was very stressful.
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 John Smoltz is glad to make history in a Braves uniform.
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