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World Series 2001
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10/22/2001 05:58 AM ET
D-Backs edge Braves to clinch World Series berth
By Ken Gurnick
MLB.com
Durazo's pinch-hit, two-run clout proved the difference in the D-Backs' NLCS-clinching win.
Box score

ATLANTA -- It's fitting for the youngest franchise ever to reach a World Series to be taken there by its 38-year-old Big Unit and some valuable spare parts.

The Arizona Diamondbacks won their first National League pennant Sunday night in a performance that reflected everything their season has been. They got the Game 5 victory they counted on from starter Randy Johnson, clutch contributions from bench players Erubiel Durazo and Danny Bautista, and a two-inning save from Byung-Hyun Kim to edge the Atlanta Braves, 3-2.

They won the best-of-seven NL Championship Series, 4-1, by beating Cy Young winners Greg Maddux twice and Tom Glavine Sunday. They swept three games at Turner Field after splitting the first two at home, and at four years old became the youngest franchise to reach a World Series.

More....
NLCS Audio Report
Braves on MLB Radio:
Smoltz | Glavine | Maddux | Andruw Jones
D-Backs on MLB Radio:
Counsell | Schilling | Durazo
Finely | Johnson | Garagiola Jr
Mark Grace's reaction: 56k | 300k
Luis Gonzalez's reaction:
56k | 300k
Matt Williams gets doused:
56k | 300k
D-Backs celebrate: 56k | 300k
Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Durazo's homer: 56k | 300k
Press conferences (Brenly and Counsell): Video | Audio
Press conferences (Durazo and Johnson): Video | Audio
Postgame transcripts:
Durazo | Johnson | Brenly | Cox

Craig Counsell, a 1997 World Series hero for Florida who was rescued off the scrap heap a year ago, was named the unlikely MVP of this NLCS, but got his greatest pleasure watching the celebration around him.

"So many guys in there have played 10, 12 years, accomplished so much in their career, and not had a chance to do this," said Counsell, who hit .381 in the series. "For them to have a chance to do this, that makes you feel so, so good."

Johnson beat Maddux and Glavine in the series after losing seven previous postseason games. He's one of nine D-Backs with at least 10 years experience going to a first World Series.

"We heard a lot that we were a veteran team that was very old, but I think the one reason why we're here and the one reason why nothing ever really fell apart was because of the veterans," said Johnson. "They didn't allow that."

There also was a rookie. Bob Brenly -- who went from second-guessing managerial moves in the broadcast booth to making them in the dugout -- is the first rookie manager to reach the World Series since Jim Frey with Kansas City in 1980, and the first in the NL since Tom Lasorda with Los Angeles in 1977. The last rookie manager to win a World Series was Ralph Houk of the 1961 New York Yankees.

As they did in each of the Atlanta home games, the Braves beat themselves. Durazo's decisive two-run pinch-homer in the fifth off Glavine produced unearned runs after Marcus Giles booted Craig Counsell's leadoff grounder. The Braves committed seven errors in the series, leading to nine unearned runs that weighed heavily on the last three outcomes.

"We made far too many mistakes," said Glavine. "One thing we were good at all season was pitching and defense. You never want to give a team extra outs in an inning."

While some series are won by hot hitters or hot pitchers, this one was significantly influenced by a hot manager. Brenly won the strategy battle by managing for a seven-game series and keeping his big guns, Johnson and Curt Schilling, on their regular five-day cycle. Atlanta's Bobby Cox went with just three starters.

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"We didn't have to do that," said Johnson. "It's hard to do, whether you're a power pitcher or not. If you don't have to, why would you want to?

As he did throughout the season, Brenly made uncanny lineup substitutions in the series, especially in Game 5. He had Danny Bautista take over center field for Steve Finley and Bautista drove in the first run. When Mark Grace had to leave the game with a hamstring injury, Brenly sent left-handed pinch-hitter Durazo to face the left-handed Glavine.

In keeping with Brenly's charmed run this year, he went with Durazo instead of right-handed hitter Greg Colbrunn because of Durazo's defense. Naturally, the result was game-winning offense.

Talk about poetic justice. When Grace was signed as a free agent, Durazo lost the first-base job he coveted. When Grace went down with an injury Sunday night, Durazo homered to send Grace to his first World Series.

Brenly was asked about his, well, luck.

"I'm just fortunate to inherit this ballclub," said Brenly, who took over for Buck Showalter. "It's easy for things to turn out well when no matter who you send out there does something good to help you win a ballgame. It doesn't make me a genius or anything like that.

"I refuse to take any credit for what's happened with this ballclub this year. They put their egos on the back burner and decided that as a unit we were going to try to go out and do something special. I kind of sat back and watched them."


"I refuse to take any credit for what's happened with this ballclub this year. They put their egos on the back burner and decided that as a unit we were going to try to go out and do something special. I kind of sat back and watched them."

--D-Backs Manager Bob Brenly


Brenly said this team's title is a testament to the unselfish attitudes of his players, particularly the ones who don't play every day.

"It would have been easy, you see it happen all the time, guys that are relegated to the bench, they don't take it so well, they sit and pout," Brenly said. "These guys relished it. They may not have liked being a bench player, but they took their role seriously."

Johnson, who was overpowering in a Game 1 three-hit shutout, wasn't the same pitcher in Game 5. But with the game on the line in the seventh, he faced seven Braves and allowed only one to score, ending it with a strikeout of Brian Jordan.

"I felt like I was mentally spent walking off the mound," said Johnson, who gave way to Kim. "I knew that I got out of a situation that could have been a momentum shift easily to the Atlanta Braves had anything happened more than what already had happened."

Johnson allowed a solo home run and RBI single by 40-year-old Mexican League castoff Julio Franco, but escaped further damage from a pair of bases-loaded jams. Relying more on the slider than his world-reknown fastball, Johnson allowed seven hits in seven innings, struck out eight and walked two.

Although Bautista's batting average against Glavine was less than half that of Finley's, (.312 versus .154), he made his manager look like a genius in the fourth. With one out, Mark Grace singled, Matt Williams walked and Bautista came up. Given the green light on a 3-0 pitch, Bautista foul tipped a fastball.

The next pitch was one of those Brenly talked about, out over the plate where Bautista could get his arms extended. He took it right back up the middle, just beyond second baseman Marcus Giles and into center field.

Grace, no speedster, was sent home by third-base coach Chris Speier, but Andruw Jones' throw was cut off by Franco. That was a big favor to Grace, who felt his hamstring tighten en route to the plate and pulled up lame as he scored without a play.

Franco tied the game leading off the fourth with an opposite-field home run off a 98-mph fastball that bounced off the top of the wall in right. With the bases loaded and two out in the fifth, Franco hit a one-hop shot at shortstop Tony Womack, who turned a force and end the inning.

"That was the hardest-hit ball of the night," said Cox. "That killed us."

But even when things went bad for the Diamondbacks, they turned out well. Grace's injury was an obvious example, as Brenly was forced to hit for his first baseman in the fifth inning after Giles' error on Counsell's grounder.

Brenly sent up Durazo, who had struck out in his only LCS appearance in Game 2. Lefty against lefty, Durazo drove a fastball away down the left-field line, tucking it just inside the foul pole. Durazo said hitting coach Dwayne Murphy told him to look for something away, and he found it.

"It was a fastball up, probably one of the only pitches I left up all night," said Glavine. "He hit it in probably the only place it was going to go out."

It's been quite a ride for Durazo this year. He was counting on significant playing time at first base, but the team instead signed Grace as a free agent. He reluctantly became a premier bench player with five pinch-homers by May 20, but none since until Sunday. In late June he suffered a serious concussion in a plate collision with Colorado's Terry Shumpert. Later he suffered a back strain and for the second half of the season was pretty much invisible.

Franco, however, wasn't finished with Johnson, who allowed a one-out single to Rey Sanchez in the seventh, then needed a sliding catch by Reggie Sanders on a scorching liner to right by pinch-hitter B.J. Surhoff. Giles walked, bringing up Franco, who laced the first pitch back through the middle to score Sanchez and pull the Braves within a run.

Chipper Jones fell behind 1-2 in the count, but worked a walk from Johnson to load the bases and bring up Jordan, who fanned on a 2-2 slider at his ankle.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.

Box score National League Championship Series

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 2

at Turner Field

FINAL

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DIAMONDBACKS 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 1
BRAVES 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 7 1
DIAMONDBACKS POS AB R H RBI BB K LOB AVG.
Tony Womack SS 5 0 1 0 0 0 3 .243
Craig Counsell 2B 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .297
Luis Gonzalez LF 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 .237
Reggie Sanders RF 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 .226
Mark Grace 1B 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 .300
a-Erubiel Durazo PH-1B 2 1 1 2 0 0 0 .250
Matt D. Williams 3B 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 .176
Danny Bautista CF 4 0 1 1 0 1 0 .100
Byung-Hyun Kim P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Damian Miller C 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 .219
Randy Johnson P 3 0 0 0 0 1 4 .000
Steve Finley CF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .364
Totals 33 3 6 3 3 4 13 -
a-homered for Grace in the 5th.
Batting:
HR
- Durazo (1, 5th inning off Glavine 1 on, 2 out).
S - Counsell.
RBI - Bautista (2), Durazo 2 (2).
2-out RBI - Durazo 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - Grace 1, Womack 2.
Team LOB - 7.
Fielding:
E
- Williams (4, ground ball).
BRAVES POS AB R H RBI BB K LOB AVG.
Marcus Giles 2B 4 0 1 0 1 1 2 .219
Julio Franco 1B 5 1 2 2 0 0 4 .278
Chipper Jones 3B 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 .321
Brian Jordan RF 4 0 1 0 0 2 3 .188
Andruw Jones CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .310
Javy Lopez C 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .143
Bernard Gilkey LF 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .200
c-Dave Martinez PH-LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167
Rey Sanchez SS 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 .269
Tom Glavine P 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .167
a-Mark DeRosa PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200
Steve Karsay P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
b-B.J. Surhoff PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
John Smoltz P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
d-Keith Lockhart PH 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .333
Totals 35 2 7 2 3 10 16 -
a-flied to center for Glavine in the 5th; b-lined to right for Karsay in the 7th; c-popped to third for Gilkey in the 8th; d-walked for Smoltz in the 9th.
Batting:|
HR - Franco (2, 4th inning off Johnson 0 on, 0 out).
RBI - Franco 2 (3).
2-out RBI - Franco.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - Franco 2, Jordan 2.
Team LOB - 9.
Fielding:
E
- Giles (2, ground ball).
DIAMONDBACKS IP H R ER BB K PIT B-S BF HR ERA
Randy Johnson (W, 2-1) 7 7 2 2 2 8 118 40-78 31 1 1.88
Byung-Hyun Kim (S, 2) 2 0 0 0 1 2 27 10-17 7 0 0.00
Pitching:
Ground balls-fly balls: Johnson 5-8; Kim 0-4.
BRAVES IP H R ER BB K PIT B-S BF HR ERA
Tom Glavine (L, 2-1) 5 5 3 1 3 3 99 38-61 24

1

0.90
Steve Karsay 2 1 0 0 0 1 23 8-15 7 0 1.69
John Smoltz 2 0 0 0 0 0 22 5-17 6 0 1.29
Pitching:
WP - Glavine.
Ground balls-fly balls: Glavine 8-4; Karsay 2-3; Smoltz 2-4.
Umpires: Gerry Davis (HP) Tim McClelland (1B) Jerry Crawford (2B) Jeff Kellogg (3B) Angel Hernandez (LF) Mike Reilly (RF)
Time: 3:13
Attendance: 35,652
Weather: 70 and clear. Wind: 3 mph, right to left.
BOX SCORE COURTESY OF SPORTSTICKER ENTERPRISES, L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED