Padres defeat Braves
4 games to 2
|Game||Date||Winning Team||Losing Team|
|1||Oct. 7||SD 3||ATL 2|
|2||Oct. 8||SD 3||ATL 0|
|3||Oct. 10||SD 4||ATL 1|
|4||Oct. 11||ATL 8||SD 3|
|5||Oct. 12||ATL 7||SD 6|
|6||Oct. 14||SD 5||ATL 0|
Managers: Bochy, Bruce, SD; Cox, Bobby, ATL
MVP: Hitchcock, Sterling
NLDS: San Diego 3, Houston 1; Atlanta 3, Chicago 0
After winning 106 games and posting a .654 winning percentage -- unmatched by any Braves club in modern history -- Atlanta had swept the Cubs in the NLDS and was eager to return to the World Series stage it had missed the previous year. It was the seventh consecutive NLCS for Atlanta, but what happened next was shocking to everyone who did the Tomahawk Chop around Turner Field.
San Diego had won 98 games, the most in club history, during the regular season, and then it eliminated a 102-win Houston club in a four-game NLDS. After having to travel across the country following its elimination of the Astros, the Padres took the first two games in Atlanta.
In Game 1, Trevor Hoffman, who had saved 53 games in the regular season and finished all four games in the NLDS, uncharacteristically blew a save in the bottom of the ninth on Andruw Jones' sacrifice fly that tied the score at 2-2. But Ken Caminiti picked him up with a solo homer in the top of the 10th and Donne Wall got the save. Kevin Brown, who had won a ring with the Marlins one year earlier, dominated Game 2 with a three-hit shutout.
John Smoltz and Tom Glavine had started at home and the Braves had nothing to show for it. It was Greg Maddux's turn to try in Game 3 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, but the Padres made it an insurmountable 3-0 series lead behind a strong start by Sterling Hitchcock. It marked the only victory by a home team in the NLCS. Hoffman struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
No team ever had come back from a 3-0 deficit in an MLB best-of-seven series -- and no team would until the Red Sox six years later.
Atlanta made a run at it by winning Games 4 and 5, the latter featuring Maddux's first career save after the Braves had scored five big runs in the eighth to avoid elimination. It meant the series would have to go back across the country, with the 1998 NL Cy Young Award winner (Glavine) scheduled to start.
That's when Hitchcock earned his NLCS MVP hardware. The left-hander started for San Diego in Game 6 and struck out eight Braves over five scoreless innings. Hitchcock allowed just a pair of singles in the fourth inning, and those were the only two hits for Atlanta off five San Diego pitchers.
Hitchcock had been drafted by the Yankees and he had made two appearances for them in the 1995 ALDS against Seattle, but the Yankees had traded him and Russ Davis to Seattle after that '95 series in a deal that brought them first baseman Tino Martinez and pitchers Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson. Now, Hitchcock was about to meet his former team on the biggest stage.