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Atlanta, at Last; Braves Win World Series

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 29, 1995

ATLANTA, OCT. 28 -- The Atlanta Braves, baseball's winningest team in the 1990s, finally added the big prize to their lengthy list of accomplishments. Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers pitched the first combined one-hitter in World Series history. David Justice launched a sixth-inning home run. And the Braves wrapped up the 91st World Series with a tidy 1-0 triumph over the Cleveland Indians tonight before 51,875 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

The Braves, in their third World Series appearance in five years, won the best-of-seven series, four games to two. It was the first championship for a professional sports team in Atlanta, and the Braves became the first major league franchise to win a World Series crown in three cities (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta).

"There was so much riding on this World Series," Justice said. "We had to win it. I couldn't imagine putting our players, our coaches, our manager, our organization and our city through another gut-wrenching defeat."

Said Glavine, who worked eight marvelous innings tonight to get his second victory of the Series and earn most valuable player honors: "This was a long time coming. These guys and this organization have worked so long and so hard to get here."

Tonight's heroes were two players who haven't always been local favorites, Glavine and Justice. "It's two guys that have been in the heat of the battle with the fans all year," Wohlers said.

Glavine often has been booed in this ballpark because he was a visible leader for the players during their nearly eight-month strike that wiped out last year's World Series. All was forgiven tonight, though. He allowed only a sixth-inning bloop single by Tony Pena, as Atlanta's precise pitching once again shut down Cleveland's usually fearsome offense. Glavine issued three walks -- two of them to Albert Belle -- and had eight strikeouts.

The Indians got just one runner to second base, and Glavine and Wohlers faced 30 batters -- three above the minimum -- in the fifth one-hitter in World Series competition. Greg Maddux two-hit the Indians in Game 1 in what Cleveland Manager Mike Hargrove called at the time the best pitching performance he ever had seen. But Glavine was at least as dominant tonight.

"It was a tremendous performance," Hargrove said. "I don't know that we really hit one ball hard off him. It ranks right up there with the game Maddux pitched against us."

Braves Manager Bobby Cox pinch-hit for Glavine in the eighth inning and went to his fireballing closer, Wohlers, in the ninth, even though Glavine had thrown a modest 109 pitches. Cox's decision raised some eyebrows -- and drew some boos -- but Glavine had informed Cox that he couldn't go any further. "Tommy could not go another pitch," Cox said. "He was completely exhausted."

Said Glavine: "In that situation, you've got to put your ego aside."

Wohlers worked a perfect ninth inning to set off a raucous celebration.

Justice was booed by the crowd early tonight after assailing Braves fans in today's editions of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Justice told the newspaper: "If we don't win, they'll probably burn our houses down."

As his long day ended, he said: "All I was trying to do was get our fans to prove me wrong -- get them to come out and show the support I knew was in them but I hadn't seen since 1991. . . . They proved me wrong. They were the main factor tonight."

Justice's comments had made for a torturous day for him. "It was a nonstop battle internally all day for me," he said. "I felt like it was me against the world all day. . . . I usually don't get butterflies. {But} I was sick all day. I was so nervous. I didn't eat anything all day {except} one banana."

He and Glavine ended the Braves' October heartache. They lost the 1991 World Series to the Minnesota Twins when Jack Morris beat them, 1-0, in a 10-inning Game 7 for the ages. They lost the '92 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games, and fell in the '93 National League playoffs to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Justice gave Glavine all the offense he needed when he got a high-and inside fastball from Indians reliever Jim Poole leading off the sixth and yanked it over the right field fence.

"It was a pitch that was supposed to be down and away, and it was up and in," said Poole, a former Baltimore Oriole. "If I don't throw that pitch, we're still playing."

Otherwise, Atlanta's offense was frustrated all evening. Indians starting pitcher Dennis Martinez weaved his way in and out of peril for 4 2/3 innings, leaving the bases loaded in the fourth. The Braves also left the bases loaded in the seventh.

The Braves went 11-3 in this postseason, with a 2.70 earned run average. They limited the Indians -- who won 100 games during baseball's shortened, 144-game regular season -- to 19 runs in the Series. Cleveland last lost a 1-0 decision in 1992, some 556 games ago. This World Series contained five one-run games, three of them won by Atlanta. The Braves were 5-2 in one-run games during this postseason -- that after going 5-13 in one-run postseason games between 1991 and '93.

"Both clubs pitched very well the whole Series," Hargrove said. "The difference was, they got the big hits more than we did."

Martinez has been pitching mostly on guile and courage recently, and his elbow bothered him in his pregame bullpen warmup tonight. He was in trouble virtually from the moment he took the mound. But Atlanta didn't break through until Martinez left.

"As a pitcher, when you're sitting there on the bench in this type of game, you wonder with each missed opportunity when the roof is going to cave in," Glavine said.

Glavine, meanwhile, was sailing along. He was changing speeds and locations, reminding everyone that in the days before Maddux joined the Braves, he was an NL Cy Young Award winner, too.

Pena began the sixth with Cleveland's only hit -- a looper that dropped in short right-center field. Poole, in his first major league at-bat, failed to get down three bunt attempts, fouling out to first baseman Fred McGriff. Kenny Lofton grounded into a forceout and stole second base. But Omar Vizquel popped out. Cleveland got only one more runner, on a two-out walk to Eddie Murray in the seventh. Jim Thome's long fly ball in the eighth landed in Marquis Grissom's glove.

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