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Astros looking to take control
10/06/2004 9:55 PM ET
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have never dropped the first two games of a National League Division Series at home.

The last time Houston won the first two games of a postseason series was 1981, when Phil Garner was playing for the Astros.

Which streak is still alive after Atlanta's Mike Hampton meets Houston's Roy Oswalt in Game 2 of the NLDS at Turner Field on Thursday could swing the momentum for the remainder of this best-of-five series.

"Getting the first one was big," said Garner, now managing Houston. "If we can get another one with Roy tomorrow, that would be huge."

The Astros, who took Game 1, 9-3, behind Roger Clemens and an offense that hit a franchise-record four home runs, are seeking to go home to Houston up 2-0 in this series.

That won't be an easy against former Astro Hampton. Lefties have given Houston problems this year and Hampton is one of the best.

"He knows us as well as anybody, and he's very tough," Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell said. "He's also a good hitter. We've got our work cut out for us."

The Braves stranded 12 baserunners and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Game 1. The dozen baserunners stranded tied Atlanta's own NLDS record, which it also accomplished in 1995, 2002 and 2003.

"We just didn't get the one hit," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We were able to get runners on, but we weren't able to get a lot of them in."

The Astros went 36-10 from Aug. 15 until the end of the regular season. The Braves are trying to head to Minute Maid Park, where the Astros have won 18 consecutive games, even in the series.

   Carlos Beltran  /   CF
Born: 04/24/77
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R

"We've got to come back tomorrow and get it done," Braves second baseman Marcus Giles said. "You don't want to go on the road down two [games]."

Counting the regular season, the Astros have won eight consecutive games.

"It's well docuemented how well we played down the stretch -- to come in and continue that momentum provides a great feeling," Bagwell said. "To win Game 1 in a five-game series is big, but there's still a long way to go. There's a reason the Braves have won 13 [straight division] championships, and that's because they're a great team and don't lose many series."

Carlos Beltran, who went 3-for-3 in Game 1, is day-to-day with bruised right ribs.

"If I'm 85 to 90 percent, I think I can play," Beltran said. "We'll see how it feels."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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