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Game balls: Rating Game 4
10/10/2004 5:08 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' 6-5 win in Game 4.

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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Adam LaRoche: With Roger Clemens out of the game, the rookie clubbed Chad Qualls for a three-run homer, giving the Braves' dugout life that would carry over and ultimately force a deciding game. In a huge spot, the kid delivered like a veteran.

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Rafael Furcal: Finding a way to get on base in the ninth via a hit-by-pitch, Furcal quickly stole second and scored on a go-ahead single by J.D. Drew.

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John Smoltz: Shaking off a ninth-inning threat, the dominant closer induced a game-ending double play grounder, completing his second inning of relief.

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Mike Hampton: An injury forced him to leave Game 2, but the veteran southpaw returned for a scoreless inning of relief in Game 4. Subtle contributions can go a long way for a suspect Atlanta bullpen.

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Russ Ortiz: The inconsistent righty didn't have it in a key game. He unraveled in the second, starting with surrendering singles to start the inning. A sacrifice fly by Clemens plated the first run, and the big blow came on a three-run homer by Craig Biggio.

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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Roger Clemens: Pitching on three days' rest, Clemens began the game with a strike on his way to a 10-pitch first inning, then gutted it out for five innings, including a 29-pitch fourth. He also made a contribution at the plate with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, accounting for Houston's first run.

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Craig Biggio: A first-inning double provided the appetizer, and a two-out, three-run homer served as the main course during a five-run second. They were the first RBIs for Biggio in four postseason series against the Braves.

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Carlos Beltran: First he made a dazzling running catch up the hill to rob Drew in the first inning, then he helped pour on the offense when he doubled and scored in the second.

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Russ Springer: A goat in Game 3, the veteran reliever struck out the first two batters in the inning, then hit Furcal with a pitch. The speedy leadoff hitter stole second and scored on a bloop single by Drew, sending the series back to Atlanta.

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


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