10/04/2002 01:31 am ET
Rueter rocked again in Atlanta
Turner Field hasn't been kind to the left-hander
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Left-handed pitcher Kirk Rueter has been the Giants' road warrior all season, but the burden is always too heavy for him at Turner Field.
The Braves left his head spinning again at Turner Field on Thursday night. Rueter allowed a season-most seven runs and matched a season high with six earned runs in but three innings as the Braves evened the best-of-5 National League Division Series with a 7-3 victory in Game 2.
"There's always going to be games where I'm going to give up my hits -- I'm not a strikeout guy, I'm going to give up my hits," Rueter said. "Unfortunately, it came in Game 2 of the playoffs."
It was the Giants' first loss since Sept. 16 at Los Angeles, and it ended their win streak at nine games. Game 3 is set for Saturday.
Add Thursday's performance, which saw him allow back-to-back solo shots to Javy Lopez on a fastball and Vinny Castilla on a changeup in the second inning, to his five career regular-season starts and Rueter's Turner Field numbers are 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA.
"They're two good hitters," Rueter said of Lopez and Castilla. "The only two pitches that I'd probably like to have back were hit out of the park. They did what they're supposed to do with mistakes."
San Francisco manager Dusty Baker said Rueter's fastball was faster than usual, which might have caused it to lose some sinking effect. And the Braves hitters' approaches contributed to the Giants' sinking feeling.
"It appeared they had a pretty good game plan against Kirk," said Baker. "Earlier in the first go-'round, it looked like they were taking the first pitch. Vinny Castilla and those guys, they came up swinging at the first pitch, so they sort of changed their game plan in the middle."
It's strange how the Braves' strategy almost always works against Rueter at Turner Field.
It's not as if Rueter makes getting shelled on the road a habit. Rueter finished the regular season with a 14-8 record and went 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in stadiums other than San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park. His loss at Florida on Aug. 16 was his first on the road since May 25. His postseason history -- one earned run allowed in 11 1/3 innings -- certainly didn't foreshadow a collapse.
The homers by Lopez, his second of the series, and Castilla touched off a three-run second that gave Atlanta a 4-1 lead, and Mark DeRosa's two-run triple with none out in the fourth chased him from the game.
It was the second time in as many starts that Rueter allowed two homers in a game. But last time it happened, he allowed just three other hits as the Giants beat Houston at home, 5-3, last Saturday.
Thursday night, he allowed seven hits and he walked two. The first hitter he walked, No. 2 hitter Julio Franco, eventually scored in the first inning. The second walk recipient, Castilla in the fourth, also scored.
Rueter could be called upon again, probably in relief, if the series comes to a deciding game Monday.
If that happens, Rueter said he'll "hope they hit some balls at somebody."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clusb.