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Braves to play Astros in NLDS10/03/2004 4:12 PM ET
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- When the Braves begin their trek toward the World Series at Turner Field on Wednesday, they'll be facing an opponent that they've encountered numerous times in past Division Series.
With a 5-2 victory over the Rockies at Minute Maid Park on Sunday afternoon, the Astros clinched the National League Wild Card and set up another first-round matchup against the Braves. This will mark the fourth time these two organizations have met in the Division Series.
"Now we start the second season," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "That's what we start every year trying to do."
Since Schuerholz moved to Atlanta before the start of the 1991 season, he's never experienced a non-strike-shortened season in which his team hasn't been a postseason participant.
Because the Braves finished the regular season with the NL's second-best record, they will have home-field advantage for this Series. Games 1 and 2 will be played on Wednesday and Thursday at Turner Field. Both games are scheduled to begin at 4:09 p.m. ET.
The Series will move to Houston for Games 3 and 4, if necessary, which will be played on Saturday and Sunday. If necessary, Game 5 will be played in Atlanta on Oct. 11. Start times for those contests will be announced later this week.
"It's going to be a great series," Julio Franco said. "But I think it's good that we've got them at our place."
The Astros surged back into postseason contention by winning 36 of their last 46 regular season games. A three-game sweep of the Rockies this weekend extended their home winning streak to 18 games.
"In a short series, you always ride a wave of emotions," John Smoltz said. "That's why Game 1 is always so important. With the way they've been playing at home, they're looking to steal one at our place and then go home with some confidence."
The Braves and Astros split the six games they played against each other during the regular season. The Astros took two of three at Turner Field in early May and the Braves returned the favor by claiming two wins in a three-game set that was played at Minute Maid Park in early August.
The Braves swept the Astros in both the 1997 and 2001 NLDS. It took them four games in the 1999 NLDS to end Houston's postseason hopes.
Braves manager Bobby Cox's Division Series rotation consists of Jaret Wright (Game 1), Mike Hampton (Game 2) and John Thomson (Game 3). The Astros plan to utilize Roger Clemens (Game 1), Roy Oswalt (Game 2) and Brandon Backe (Game 3).
"I'm excited right now," Wright said. "The regular season is over. The postseason starts right now. So it's time to start getting ready and focused for the first game."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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