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Game balls: Rating Game 5
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10/12/2004 12:07 AM ET
Game balls: Rating Game 5
Beltran's mammoth series leads Astros into NLCS
tickets for any Major League Baseball game 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 Astros' 12-3 win in Game 5.

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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Carlos Beltran: What more could the superstar do beyond his two-homer, five-RBI night? Beltran clubbed four homers total in the series, batted .455 and scored nine runs. Not bad for a guy playing in his first postseason series.

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Roy Oswalt: The right-hander didn't buckle with a three-run lead, despite allowing 10 baserunners in five innings. The Braves mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the third and fourth innings, and Oswalt escaped both times. When Rafael Furcal and Johnny Estrada each homered in the fifth -- cutting the deficit to a run -- and Andruw Jones walked, Oswalt dodged a bullet by getting Adam LaRoche to fly out deep to center. That preserved a lead for Houston.

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Jeff Bagwell: Shaking off some postseason demons, the veteran hit .318 in the series and provided a back-breaking two-run homer during a five-run seventh inning.

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Craig Biggio: Joining his longtime teammate Bagwell, Biggio hit .400 in the series, including three hits in the deciding game.

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Phil Garner: He took over an underachieving team right after the All-Star break, and brought it to the National League Championship Series. Call it karma.

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

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Johnny Estrada: The All-Star catcher went down fighting, batting .353 for the series and driving in two of Atlanta's three runs. His homer in the fifth brought the Braves to within a run.

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Rafael Furcal: The speedy shortstop didn't watch for the ball while on the move, squelching a potential rally. Running on a 1-0 pitch, he was hit on the left leg by a Chipper Jones grounder. So instead of first and third with one out, Atlanta had a runner at first with two outs. Furcal made up for his indiscretion later, homering for the first Braves run.

braves gameball
Jaret Wright: He may have had a brilliant comeback season, but Wright will undoubtedly remember his poor postseason, in which he compiled a 9.31 ERA in two starts. Entering the game, Wright had been 0-4 with a 7.81 ERA in his last 10 postseason games, and that didn't get any better.

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Chris Reitsma: Reitsma's rough outing turned a two-run mole hill into a 9-2 mountain. At first, a leadoff single seemed irrelevant after Reitsma got the next two outs, but the wheels fell off. Bagwell capped things off with a two-run homer during the five-run parade in the seventh.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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