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World Series 2001
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10/15/2001 04:37 AM ET
D-Backs notebook: Ready for Braves
By Gary Rausch
MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Even as they partied Sunday, nobody in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse was losing sight of their next opponent, the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

"This is fun now," said leftfielder Luis Gonzalez. "We've got a lot of guys that never got to this level, but we know we've got our work cut out for us. They've got a great pitching staff. They've been to a lot of postseason games, but this team's got a lot of heart. We're not going to give up. We had a tough matchup here in the first round, but we like our situation a lot better with who were going to play in the next round."

Danny Bautista, who once played for Atlanta, believes the NLCS with the Braves will feature continued good pitching defeating good hitting. "You're not going to see much hitting," predicted the man who scored the winning run Sunday.

"We're playing a team that's a lot more experienced in the post-season than we are," said Randy Johnson. "I think everybody is getting a quick lesson of what pressure and execution are all about."

Johnson, for one, was happy to reach a longer playoff series.

"In a five-game series, you make a mistake and it could cost you the ball game. You never want to be in the loser's column in a five-game series because then it's harder to come back. We've played the Braves well and we're up for the challenge."

"We get our big men twice in the series -- Randy and Curt -- but they've got good pitching, too," said Gonzalez. "But the way we've played against Atlanta all year, we're hoping we can keep that ball rolling."

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Reggie Sanders said the moment was what the club had been waiting for. "We've overcome every adversity that we've had to encounter, and this is just another testament to that," he said. "Nothing has been easy, so this is just preparing us for the next level."

Craig Counsell won't try to equate Sunday's victory with his scoring the winning run for Florida in the 1997 World Series.

"This is unbelievable, though," the second baseman said. "Games like this bring out emotions you never get to feel. The way we won it, Curt (Schilling) just carried us on his back for two games.

"When things looked bad, when he didn't get the squeeze down, Tony came through. Against a tough left-hander, he fouled off pitches. The guy was throwing nasty sliders and he came through. I'm so happy for him. Tony, with all he's gone through this year, for him to get that hit, to be the guy that does it ... That's the story of this team, everybody is doing something to get us to the next level."

The Diamondbacks are anxious for Tuesday's NLCS opener with Atlanta.

"We can't wait," Counsell said. "This is another step. We celebrate this one and it gets more fun every level you go."

"This was our goal," said Mark Grace, "to get to this next level. Then our goal is to win that series and play in the World Series and win that. We said when we were having our party in Milwaukee, this is the first of four. This was second and we won't accept anything less.

GETTING INTO THE ACT: Fans at America West Arena watching the Phoenix Suns pre-season game against the Seattle Sonics were treated to an added bonus when the end of the Diamondbacks game was shown on the video screens at the Arena while the Suns were playing.

The Suns defeated the Sonics, 69-62, just before Womack's failed suicide squeeze attempt. Fans were invited to stay and watch the rest of the game and the crowd roared as Womack delivered the game-winner.

The Suns dance team and Gorilla mascot rushed onto the court to perform after the winning run scored.

ABIDING BY THE RULES: Major League Baseball asked teams not to celebrate with champagne during the post-season. Though it looked like the Diamondbacks were in violation as they sprayed each other with what appeared to be champagne, Managing General Partner Jerry Colangelo held up a bottle to show that it was sparkling cider.

"It's sparkling cider not champagne," Colangelo said. "We follow edicts."

VOTE FOR SCHILLING: "One run in 18 innings, I'd have to say he was the MVP of this series, at least in my mind," said Mark Grace. "I told him how proud I was of him and how proud I was to be his teammate."

EARLY HERO:Reggie Sanders, who struck out in his first at-bat against Matt Morris, gave Arizona a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the fourth.

"I was just looking for something out over the plate that I could hit," said Sanders, who hit .357 for the series. "He threw a curve ball, in a little bit, and I was able to reach through and drive it as far as I've ever hit a baseball."

Sanders deposited the Morris pitch 447 feet away, among spectators dining in the front row of Friday's Front Row Restaurant in the second deck of left field. It was only the seventh homer hit into the eatery in four seasons and the first since Sanders accomplished the feat on Aug. 17 against the Chicago Cubs.

Sanders and Morris brought the crowd to its feet and players streamed in from the dugouts and bullpens in the bottom of the sixth. Sanders took exception to Morris' first pitch sailing inside and nearly hitting him. The batter glared and then took steps toward the mound as Morris came toward him.

"I thought he was trying to hit me and I think it was more the heat of the moment," said Sanders. "I was concentrating and I was fired up. (Later) I was talking to some of the guys and they told me he wasn't trying to hit me and I knew that."

COUNSELL RUNNER-UP:If shortstop Tony Womack got a nine or 10 rating for his leaping catch of Albert Pujols' liner to open the fourth, what should second baseman Craig Counsell get for his soaring stop of Jim Edmunds' liner two pitches later?

"I told him he got a seven because he stumbled on his landing," said Womack.

RUN DANNY RUN:The fact that there were two outs made pinch runner Danny Bautista's game-winning dash for home on Tony Womack's ninth-inning single that much easier.

"I think so, with two outs and a 2-2 pitch," Bautista said, "Tony kept his eyes on the ball and hit it. They were playing shallow. I saw the catcher (Mike) Matheny try to catch the ball on the right side, so I went head first to the other side and had my fingers crossed."

One of many valued bench players, Bautista didn't care how he contributed, so long as he made some impact.

"A win is a win," he said. "Everybody pulls everything together. That was my situation right there, pinch running. I thought I might do it another way, like hit a homer to win the game, but I did it by pinch running."

OH SO CLOSE: Randy Johnson warmed up in the bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings. How close was he to entering Sunday's game in relief of Schilling.

"I was an out away," said the 6-10 lefty. "They'd hit for Schilling and said I was out there. I haven't done that since '95 and was pretty nervous. None of the guys in the bullpen were talking to me and I need to ask, 'Am I doing this right by keeping warm and sitting down?'"

PRINZ THROWS AGAIN: Reliever Bret Prinz threw off the mound again prior to Game 5. Prinz said he threw about 12 of his pitches during the session at full strength, the first time he has thrown at full strength while trying to come back from tendinitis in his shoulder.

"I was a little scared at first," Prinz said. "But it felt good and I got comfortable after throwing the first couple."

Prinz has yet to throw any breaking balls or face hitters. It is uncertain whether he would be able to participate in the NLCS if the Diamondbacks advanced.

Gary Rausch is a reporter for MLB.com.