10/12/2004 4:03 AM ET
Astros short hops
Record-setting offense lifts Astros to NLCS berth
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Carlos Beltran, Jeff Bagwell and the Astros slugged their way into the postseason record book at Turner Field on Monday night.
Powering the Astros to their first-ever postseason series win, Beltran hit a solo home run off Braves starter Jaret Wright in the third inning and again in the sixth, giving the Astros a 4-2 lead in an eventual 12-3 win in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
That second shot gave the Astros 28 total runs in the series, an NLDS record, and they went on to total 36 runs on 58 hits, another record. The previous record holders were the 1995 Braves, who scored 27 runs on 51 hits in their three-games-to-none win over the Dodgers.
Beltran, meanwhile, enjoyed the first-ever multi-homer postseason game by an Astro. With four home runs in the series, he set a franchise postseason record.
When Jeff Bagwell homered off Chris Reitsma in the seventh inning, it gave the Astros 11 homers in the series, tying the 1995 Yankees and Mariners for the all-time Division Series record. Before this year, the NLDS record was seven, by those same '95 Braves. Beltran's four hits and five RBIs in the game set Astros postseason records.
Stats all, folks
A look at the key statistics from the Astros-Braves NLDS.
||Good news: the bullpen held a lead
||Not just good, but record-setting
||Would have liked to save some for the NLCS
||Late error by Bagwell in Game 5 did not figure
Who was hot?
||.455, 9 R, 4 HR, 9 RBIs
||Pending free agent about to be very rich
|Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio
||.357, 10 R, 9 RBIs
||So much for their postseason slump
Who was not?
||Did knock in an early run in Game 5
Behind the numbers
Jeff Kent finished the series with a .227 average, but he did go 2-for-5 on Monday to finish strong. What doesn't show up in the box score is his surprisingly solid defense at second base. In Game 5 he made a slick play to retire Charles Thomas in the sixth inning, helping reliever Chad Qualls work a 1-2-3 inning. The Astros then broke the game open in the top of the seventh and Kent contributed an RBI single.
Finally, a post-series celebration in the Astros dugout. They were 0-7 in previous postseason series.
Pitching on three days' rest, Roy Oswalt pitched four innings on guts, and manager Phil Garner let him slog his way through the fifth to get in position for the win. Rafael Furcal led off the inning by slugging Oswalt's 90th pitch of the game for a solo home run that cut the Braves' deficit to 3-1. Oswalt retired the next two hitters, then surrendered another solo home run to Johnny Estrada on pitch No. 98.
Still, Garner stuck with his 20-game winner, even after Oswalt walked Andruw Jones to bring up Adam LaRoche, whose three-run homer tied Game 4 and sparked the Braves to a win. LaRoche crushed a 3-2 pitch to straightaway center field, where Beltran caught it at the warning track to end the inning.
Opportunities for knocks
Wright retired the Astros in order in the fourth inning, snapping Houston's streak of 20 consecutive innings with at least one baserunner. During the streak the Astros scored 16 runs on 28 hits and 13 walks.
"What a feeling, baby! What a feeling!" -- Right-hander Brandon Backe, popping the cork off a champagne bottle Monday night. Backe will likely be tabbed for Game 2 of the NLCS
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.