10/17/2004 8:59 PM ET
Astros short hops
Club has momentum, history on its side after win
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- After scoring a come-from-behind win in Game 4, the Astros could not help but feel they had momentum on their side in the National League Championship Series.
They have history, too.
The last team to lose the first two games of the NLCS and come back to tie it at two apiece was the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, who won the next four games and the series against the Dodgers. It also happened in 1984, when San Diego dropped the first two games to the Chicago Cubs and came back to win the series, 3-2.
Are the Astros on that track? They dropped the first two games in St. Louis but have now won the last two, including Sunday's 6-5 thriller at Minute Maid Park. Since the seven-game format was introduced in 1985, all but three of the 18 NLCS have begun 2-1, and the winner of Game 4 won the series 11 times.
A look at key statistics through Game 4 of the NLCS.
||Dan Wheeler, Brad Lidge with some much-needed relief
||Five of the Astros’ nine hits in Game 4 went for extra bases
|BA w/ RISP
||Improved in Game 3 and again in Game 4, going 2-for-7 (.286)
||Talk about consistency: Astros have scored 7, 4, 5 and 6 runs in Games 1-4
||Games 3 and 4 played error-free
Who was hot?
||.538, 8 R, 4 HRs, 5 RBIs
||He can’t explain it, doesn’t want to
||.467, 6 R, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs
||Because of Beltran, not getting the pub he deserves
Who was not?
||.125, 2-for-16, HR, 2 RBIs
||Astros’ only 0-for-4 player in Game 4
Behind the numbers
Lidge now has two saves, seven strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA in the last two games. But the more troubling numbers are four, his innings pitched, and 68, the number of pitches he threw in those innings.
The heavy workload in Game 3 (42 pitches) did not seem to affect Lidge in Game 4. He threw 28 pitches for a two-inning save and had his usual dominating stuff. He needed just seven pitches to work a 1-2-3 eighth inning, then threw 19 pitches in the ninth. Lidge insisted that he would be ready to go in Game 5, if needed.
Every time Barry Bonds swings the bat, he is met by a barrage of flashbulbs. Maybe it's time to give Beltran the same treatment. Beltran launched a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning of Game 4, his eighth of the postseason and his fifth consecutive game with a homer.
Craig Biggio was caught stealing for the final out of the fifth inning with Berkman at the plate. Berkman then led off the sixth with his third home run of the LCS. But instead of tying the game, it pulled the Astros to within a run.
The Astros have now won 21 of their last 22 games at Minute Maid Park.
So hot it hurts
Beltran is the fifth player ever to hit four home runs in an LCS, joining Pittsburgh's Bob Robertson in 1971, Los Angeles' Steve Garvey in 1978, San Francisco's Jeffrey Leonard in 1987 and Cleveland's Jim Thome in 1998. With one more long ball, Beltran would set the single-postseason record for homers.
He has also scored 17 runs this postseason, one shy of Bonds' all-time record. Toronto's Paul Molitor is the only other player to score 17 runs in a postseason.
Right off the bat
The teams combined to score four runs in the first inning of Game 4 and have totaled 13 first-inning runs in the series (Houston 7, St. Louis 6). The record for most first-inning runs in an NLCS is 18, by the Cubs and Giants in 1989.
"We don't feel pressure at all, man. We feel good. After we were two behind, we were coming home. We knew playing in front of our crowd was going to be a little bit easier for us, and we really play well in this ballpark. Just being able to get back and tie the series, I think the pressure is with them."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.