10/04/2002 01:30 am ET
Bottom of order comes through
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- After watching the lower half of the Giants' lineup do the Braves in on Wednesday afternoon, the bottom part of the Braves' lineup started an assault of its own in Game 2 on Thursday night.
"That's exactly what we needed," said Javy Lopez, who went 2-for-4 and hit his second home run in as many nights. "After the home runs (by Lopez and Vinny Castilla), I think everybody kind of woke up at bat and the momentum kind of shifted.
"It was great because, when we came to the ballpark today, we felt like we were going to do some damage."
In Game 1, all the Giants starters got at least one hit. But the last four players in their lineup went 7-for-18 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Even starting pitcher Russ Ortiz threw in a single and a run scored.
The Braves' six-through-eight hitters went 5-for-9 with four RBIs and six runs scored in Game 2. The top five Atlanta hitters had three hits combined.
Braves manager Bobby Cox said he was counting on everyone to contribute.
"That's what you hope for," Cox said. "When you get into a five-game series, which is a big crapshoot, you need for everybody to get hot, and especially the guys down toward the bottom. It's just a great time, really, for those guys to kick it in."
Lopez's homer leading off the second inning broke a 1-1 tie and put the Braves ahead for good, and Castilla followed with a solo shot of his own. DeRosa doubled and scored on a bloop single by Rafael Furcal to make it 4-1 at the end of two innings.
DeRosa tripled home two more runs in the fourth after a single by Lopez and a walk by Castilla.
"DeRosa hit .300 this year, or one point below it, and those were typical hits from him tonight," Cox said. "The blooper to right, he gets a lot of those. And the line drive to right, he gets a lot of those."
DeRosa said he wasn't thinking of trying to keep up with the power hitters.
"It was a thrill to get my first start of the playoffs," DeRosa said. "It was something I've been thinking about for a while. I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and the guys hitting in front of me, hitting home runs, they made it easy for me."
Castilla had gone a career-high 256 at-bats before hitting a home run on Sept. 13. Then, during the last weekend of the regular season, he hit two more homers.
"Yeah, Vinny started swinging good again about two weeks ago, hitting some balls hard, hitting some balls out," Cox said. "It took him three months to get his last home run and Vinny has always been able to hit the ball out of the ballpark. It's just one of those things. He's hitting the ball hard everywhere right now."
Castilla said the key has been getting his right wrist healthy again.
"My wrist is feeling better and my hand is stronger," Castilla said. "I've been able to drive the ball well. But the (regular) season is over and now it is the postseason. It feels great when you contribute to a win. Sometimes, they don't want to pitch to Chipper (Jones) and Andruw (Jones) and (Gary) Sheffield. We know we have to step it up and come through.
"Javy and I, we've been in the postseason before. We don't put pressure on ourselves. We just want to do what we know we can do."
Lopez struggled offensively during the regular season but finished with four home runs and 15 RBIs in the final 13 games. He, too, was happy to wipe the slate clean.
"Of course, because this is the time of year you play for," Lopez said. "This was a must-win for us. Going into San Francisco down 2-0 would not have been fun."
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.