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Coming through in the clutch
10/11/2004 2:51 AM ET
HOUSTON -- Chipper Jones guaranteed that before the National League Division Series ended either he or J.D. Drew would break out of their funk and deliver a much-needed big hit.

The Braves were fortunate that this prediction became a reality on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. But realistically, if it hadn't, there wouldn't have been a tomorrow for Jones' words to prove prophetic.

After Drew provided the game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning of the Braves' 6-5 victory over the Astros in Game 4, he and Jones were both able to finally breathe a sigh of relief. They had finally come through in the clutch to enable their team to stay alive for at least another day.

"J.D. picked a good time to get a big knock," Jones said. "We feel very fortunate."

Drew delivered his game-winner into right-center field off Russ Springer after Rafael Furcal had stolen second base.

"I got the fastball up and over the plate," Drew said. "That's the one you want to capitalize on. It was just one of those situations where I was looking to get a pitch to handle and it happened."

While Drew's hit was his only of the contest, Jones ignited both the two-run second inning and three-run sixth inning with leadoff singles. Those were his first two hits of this best-of-five series, which will be decided in Game 5 at Turner Field on Monday.

   J.D. Drew  /   RF
Born: 11/20/75
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

Jones struggled through Game 1 because of a bruised right hand he suffered at Wrigley Field on Oct. 2. But he says the injury hasn't been a factor since that opening contest.

"I felt better at the plate," Jones said. "I felt like it was coming around. I can't complain with my last six at-bats. I've only got two hits. But they both came leading off an inning and I came around to score a run in those innings."

While Jones had gone hitless in his first 11 at-bats of this series, Drew's two hits during the previous three games were both infield singles. The usual third and fourth hitters in the Braves' lineup -- Drew batted second for the first time all season on Sunday -- had gone just 2-for-23 combined with no RBIs entering Sunday's game.

"It's about execution when you get to this point of the game," Drew said. "When you get to this point of the game, you're going to be face guys that have been pitching well all year, because their team is here. You're not going to get the opportunity to face any scrubs out there."

Drew says that he realizes that his career batting average in NLDS play is just .181 (8-for-44). But that's not what he'll be focusing on when he arrives at Turner Field on Monday.

"It's something that you're aware of," Drew said. "But it's a day-to-day thing. You don't want to emphasize on what you did yesterday, because it ain't about yesterday. We won today. Tomorrow is another day."

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


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