1995 Braves: Javy Lopez puts Atlanta in command

Javy Lopez (8) celebrates his sixth-inning home run at the plate with teammate David Justice in Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 22, 1995, in Atlanta.  (Frank Neimeir/AJC)
Javy Lopez (8) celebrates his sixth-inning home run at the plate with teammate David Justice in Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 22, 1995, in Atlanta. (Frank Neimeir/AJC)

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Twenty-five years ago today, Atlanta took a 2-0 World Series lead against Cleveland, behind the heroic efforts of catcher Javier Lopez, who drilled a two-run homer in the sixth inning and short-circuited a potential rally with a pickoff throw in the eighth. This was the account that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the following day:

Oct. 22, 1995

Big bats finally get to Indians

By Thomas Stinson

With justifiable pride, the Cleveland Indians affix their postseason success to one sequence of numbers: 3-4-5. Before Sunday, the Tribe had held opposing 3-4-5 hitters to a .139 average with just three RBI coming from the production slots in the order.

The Braves amended that stat in the first three innings of Game 2 and changed the course of the World Series as well. Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff and David Justice went 2-for-4 with two RBI the first two times through the order, turning what had been a quick 2-0 Indians lead into a 2-2 tie that held up until Javy Lopez could make the difference later.

Oddly, it began as a disaster. Atlanta might have done far better, loading the bases in the first and then failing to score. The club moved around only two of the six men to reach base in the first three innings. Fred McGriff twice failed to get the ball out of the infield with men in scoring position and then in the fifth inning grounded into a double play.

Those failures were further magnified by what transpired in the top of the second, when Eddie Murray’s two-run homer put the Tribe out front. The Braves had led in just three of the first 14 innings played. To squander such an early chance and then trail 2-0 was forboding.

But the hot start also broke a pattern of Cleveland pitching that had delivered them from Boston and Seattle. After the pitcher’s paralysis of Game 1, the second time around was going to be a little friskier.

Braves first baseman Fred McGriff handles a high pick-off throw in Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 22, 1995, in Atlanta.
Braves first baseman Fred McGriff handles a high pick-off throw in Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 22, 1995, in Atlanta.

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

In the Braves' half of the first, Mark Lemke walked and Jones quickly doubled. And with men on second and third, McGriff grounding out to pitcher Dennis Martinez. After Justice milked a walk after trailing Martinez 1-2 in the count, Klesko, who had hit .462 this year with the bases loaded, then fouled out to third baseman Jim Thome, who ran down the ball in front of the Cleveland dugout. Three men on, none in.

Martinez was able to rip through the bottom of the order but was right back in trouble in the third inning, which he began by hitting Marquis Grissom in the left elbow with a 2-2 pitch. Lemke singled Grissom to second and Martinez granted him third with a wild pick-off attempt that was four feet wide of the base with Omar Vizquel covering. Jones then delivered a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Grissom, and David Justice, with only one RBI in his 25 postseason at-bat, sent a hard single to right, bringing in Lemke to tie the game 2-2.

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Game 1: Greg Maddux pitches 2-hit masterpiece

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