Lopez ties catcher HR record

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Meaningless in the standings, these games

mean plenty to Jim Thome and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Thome hit two homers to take the league lead with 47 and scored

the winning run in the 10th inning, leading Philadelphia past NL

East champion Atlanta 7-6 Saturday in the next-to-last game at

Veterans Stadium.

Javy Lopez hit his major league-record 42nd homer as a catcher

this season, and Julio Franco and Gary Sheffield also went deep for

the Braves, who lost ground in their pursuit of home-field

advantage throughout the playoffs.

"He's unbelievable," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said of

Thome, in his first season with the Phillies after 10 years with

Cleveland. "He continues to rise to the occasion. He's given the

fans their money's worth and he's given the Phillies their money's


Atlanta entered with a one-game lead over San Francisco for the

NL's best record. The Giants played a doubleheader against Los

Angeles on Saturday.

The Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak by rallying to tie

the game in the ninth against closer John Smoltz, who had converted

45 of 48 save chances this season.

"I'll be replaying this one over and over," Smoltz said. "I

threw a lot more pitches than I wanted to."

Thome led off the 10th with a double off Ray King (3-4). He

moved to third when Pat Burrell lined out to right off Trey Hodges

and scored on Chase Utley's RBI single. Utley hit a sharp grounder

off the glove of shortstop Jesse Garcia, who made a dive to his


Rheal Cormier (8-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for the Phillies.

"I was just trying to hit a sacrifice fly or get a single,"

Utley said.

Atlanta led 6-4 in the ninth. But Jimmy Rollins' two-out double

off the right-field wall drove in Jason Michaels. Bobby Abreu then

lined a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap, scoring Rollins

to tie it at 6.

The Phillies, atop the NL wild-card standings a week ago, were

eliminated from the playoff race Thursday night after being swept

by Florida. They are closing out the Vet this weekend after 33

seasons, and will move into Citizens Bank Park next year.

"As special as this weekend is and all the people here,

hopefully we can end it on a good note," Thome said.

Lopez's homer in the second inning broke Todd Hundley's 1996

mark for the position. Lopez also has one homer as a pinch-hitter,

giving him 43 overall.

He drove a 2-1 pitch from Amaury Telemaco over the left-field

wall in the second inning. Lopez stood at the plate briefly,

admiring his blast, then tossed his bat and jogged slowly around

the bases.

Braves starter Mike Hampton pitched two innings in his final

tuneup for next week's Game 2 start in the playoffs. Hampton threw

16 pitches, giving up one run and three hits.

Shane Reynolds pitched two scoreless innings, and Darren Holmes

allowed two runs.

Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Gryboski each tossed a scoreless

inning, and Will Cunnane gave up a run in one inning, before Smoltz

blew the lead in the ninth.

Telemaco gave up three runs and four hits in two innings in his

shortest start for the Phillies this season.

After Lopez gave the Braves a 1-0 lead, Franco followed with his

fifth homer to make it 2-0. Rafael Furcal's two-out RBI single

drove in Vinny Castilla for a 3-0 lead.

Thome, who entered tied with Milwaukee's Richie Sexson and San

Francisco's Barry Bonds for the NL lead in homers, cut it to 3-1

with his solo shot in the second. A solo shot off Cunnane in the

eighth drew the Phillies to 5-4.

"You don't imagine coming to a new league and hitting that many

homers," said Thome, who pulled to within one homer of tying Mike

Schmidt's franchise record set in 1980.

An RBI double by Andruw Jones in the third off Brandon Duckworth

gave the Braves a 4-1 lead. Sheffield's 39th homer in the fifth off

Duckworth made it 5-1.<

^Notes: The All-Vet team was introduced to the sellout crowd of

58,303 before the game. It included two Hall of Famers: 3B Schmidt

and LHP Steve Carlton. Tug McGraw, who has brain cancer, was the

team's closer. He received a loud ovation as he jogged onto the

field. ... Cy Young Award winners John Denny and Steve Bedrosian

threw out the first pitches. .... Phillies RHP Ryan Madson made his

big league debut, pitching two perfect innings. INF Anderson

Machado made his debut, stealing a base as a pinch-runner.