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Braves 6, Rockies 5

May 8, 1996 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ Greg Maddux gave up another late-inning homer. Only this time, his teammates bailed him out.

Maddux, on the verge of losing consecutive starts for the first time in nearly two years, was spared a decision Tuesday night when the Braves rallied for three runs in the ninth to tie the game and won it 6-5 in the 10th on Javy Lopez’s two-out double.

``I feel good about the way I’m throwing,″ said Maddux, who fell behind in the seventh when Vinny Castilla hit a three-run homer. ``I’m not happy about the amount of runs I’m giving up, but I’m not too worried. I feel like I’m pitching pretty good.″

Last Friday, Maddux lost to the Phillies 6-3, giving up the first regular-season grand slam of his career in the ninth inning. With two losses already, he appeared set to surpass his 1995 total _ he was 19-2 in winning a fourth straight Cy Young Award _ when the Rockies carried a 5-2 lead to the bottom of the ninth.

Bruce Ruffin, who came on in the eighth after rookie Mike Farmer allowed only two hits in his first major-league start, gave up a leadoff single to Fred McGriff in the ninth but got the next two batters out. After Ryan Klesko’s infield single scored McGriff, the Rockies called on stopper Curtis Leskanic to get the final out.

But Leskanic walked Jeff Blauser, a .172 hitter, and pinch-hitter Dwight Smith blooped an 0-2 pitch to left for an RBI single that made it 5-4. Leskanic got two strikes on the next hitter, as well, but Marquis Grissom singled to right-center to tie it up.

In the 10th, Leskanic (2-1) struck out the first two hitters but another walk led to his downfall. After David Justice trotted to first, Javy Lopez hit a 3-2 pitch to deep center. Larry Walker leaped against the wall but missed the ball by inches, allowing Justice to come all the way around to score and give the Braves their fourth straight victory.

``With two out and ahead in the count, I was looking to drive it deep,″ Lopez said. ``He threw me nothing but sliders and I knew it would be low and away. I had a little luck _ Walker almost caught it.″

Colorado manager Don Baylor unleashed a profanity-laced tirade after the game.

``It was a ... disgrace,″ he said. ``We get two strikes on every batter and can’t put anybody away.″

Leskanic saw it differently.

``It’s not a good feeling when you go out there and make good pitches and they get hits like that,″ he said. ``The only bad pitch I made was to Smith. It was a slider that should have been down and in.″

Farmer, called up from the minors April 29, allowed only two hits in seven innings but the Colorado bullpen denied him his first major-league win. The victory went to Brad Clontz (1-2), who pitched a scoreless 10th.

``I was real nervous, throwing against Maddux and the championship Braves,″ Farmer said. ``I’m happy to get my feet wet. You have to move on. You can’t harp on it.″

The 27-year-old left-hander had pitched only one inning in the majors before Tuesday, mopping up in the ninth of a 17-5 win over Florida last Saturday, and he got off to a shaky start against the Braves, who had banged out 42 hits in their previous three games.

Grissom led off the first with a walk and, with two outs, McGriff hit a 441-foot homer to right that almost reached the second level of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

That was the Braves’ only hit off Farmer until the seventh, when Justice led off with a double. Farmer snuffed out that threat by getting Lopez on a check-swing grounder and striking out Klesko and Blauser.

Farmer walked three and struck out five.

Castilla, who entered the game 0-for-8 against Maddux in his career, singled in the second, one of only two hits off the Atlanta ace until the seventh.

Andres Galarraga led off that inning with the Rockies third hit, Dante Bichette was hit by a Maddux pitch and Castilla slammed an inside pitch off the foul pole in left for his fifth homer. Colorado added three more singles in the seventh before Eric Young’s sacrifice fly made it 4-2.

Jeff Reed hit a solo homer in the ninth off Mark Wohlers to give the Rockies a 5-2 lead, but it wasn’t enough.

Notes: Galarraga has driven in 20 runs in the last 18 games. ... Young’s 10-game hitting streak came to an end. Entering the game, he had hit safely in 12 of 13 games since he came off the disabled list April 22. ... Grissom now has an eight-game hitting streak. ... Farmer was denied his first big-league win, but he did have his big hit in the majors: a seventh-inning infield single.