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Game balls: Rating Game 2
10/07/2004 8:00 PM ET
MLB.com is awarding "game balls" -- or, in this case, cowboy boots -- as the boys from Houston so often wear -- and peaches -- in honor of Georgia's favorite fruit -- for performances in this year's National League Division Series. Here's a look at the Braves' 4-2 win in Game 2.

Five peaches: Warm slice of delicious pie, a la mode
Four peaches: A tasty cobbler
Three peaches: Juicy and refreshing
Two peaches: Mom packed this instead of a candy bar?
One peach: The last piece of fruit from the bottom of the bin

Braves

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Rafael Furcal: His walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning completed a comeback and prevented the Braves from heading to Houston a loss away from elimination. The shot erased memories of what had been an up-and-down seventh inning. His single plated the first Braves run, and he made it to third when catcher Raul Chavez threw into center field trying to cut down his attempt to steal second. Such hustle went for naught when Furcal hesitated after a wild pitch and was cut down at the plate for the final out.

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Mike Hampton: Despite a bad knee, Hampton kept the Braves in the game for 6 1/3 innings before forearm tightness forced him to leave. Other than two solo homers, Hampton kept his former team largely off balance.

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John Smoltz: In addition to tossing three hitless innings, Smoltz led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Houston closer Brad Lidge. Left stranded, Smoltz's effort won't be easily forgotten.

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Adam LaRoche: The rookie came up with a one-out double and could have given the Braves the lead had J.D. Drew not been caught stealing earlier in the inning.

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Dewayne Wise: Wise sparked the Braves with a pinch-double in the seventh, the team's first extra-base hit of the game. Despite falling between first and second, Wise reached second and later scored Atlanta's first run.

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Chipper Jones: The Braves veteran continued to struggle with another 0-for-4 day. He's 0-for-8 in the series.

Astros

Five cowboy boots: Freshly shined and a perfect fit, ready for some serious two-stepping
Four cowboy boots: The first choice for a night on the town
Three cowboy boots: A few scuff marks, but no one will notice
Two cowboy boots: Showing serious signs of wear
One cowboy boot: Somebody stepped in something

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Jeff Bagwell: His postseason struggles against the Braves (8-for-47, .174) notwithstanding, Bagwell is a different player this time around. The steady performer's opposite-field homer off former teammate Hampton was his third hit of the series, and it gave starter Roy Oswalt a lead before he stepped on the mound. Chalk it up to a clutch performance from a veteran who's battling through a shoulder injury.

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Raul Chavez: Disregard the fact that Chavez hit .210 with no homers during the regular season, the catcher clubbed the sixth homer of the series -- by six different players -- for Houston. Oswalt's personal catcher Chavez homered for the first time since April 15, 2003, and became the 10th player to hit a homer in his first postseason at-bat. The catcher also made a brilliant recovery on a wild pitch, then cut down Furcal.

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Roy Oswalt: The former Olympian turned in another top-notch performance and left with the lead. The leadoff hitter reached in each of the first three innings, and was stranded each time. A two-out bloop hit posed another threat in the sixth, but Oswalt again didn't wilt. He finally left after giving up an RBI single to Furcal in the seventh -- after an 88-pitch effort.

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Brad Lidge: The closer allowed the tying run to score in the eighth inning, allowing three hits, when he had the chance to bring his team home with a chance to wrap the series up.

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Craig Biggio: After Chavez singled and Oswalt walked, Biggio rapped into a double play to third, rather than attempting a sacrifice. If the veteran wasn't going to bunt, he had to at least move the runners along rather than kill a potential rally.

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


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