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Baseball: Braves in trouble as Brown strikes form

THE SAN Diego pitcher, Kevin Brown, dominated the Atlanta Braves with a three-hitter as the Padres beat the hosts 3-0 to go two up in the National League Championship Series.

Brown, who beat the Braves twice in the 1997 NLCS while with the Florida Marlins, struck out 11 batters.

``You've got to try and keep as many of those guys off the bases as you can," Brown said. "This is a big win for us."

Brown (2-0) was masterful in surrendering three singles and three walks. He struck out 11 and 79 of his 122 pitches were strikes. "I feel good right now," said Brown. "This is a big win. To come here [Atlanta] and take both games is a huge boost for us."

Asked what his best pitches were, the veteran right-hander said: "A variety of stuff. Not staying with the same thing consistently. I threw just about everything but the kitchen sink. I was good at winging it, just making stuff up as I went along."

In three post-season games this season Brown has allowed one run and eight hits over 23 and two-third innings. Brown, a World Series champion with the Florida Marlins last year, has also won three straight starts against the Braves, striking out 22 batters.

"When Brown is on form, he's as tough as any pitcher in the game," said the Padres manager, Bruce Bochy. "And with the stuff he has and when he's hitting the spots, he's as good as any pitcher. He's as tough a competitor as I've ever seen."

The third game of the best-of-seven series is in San Diego today. Of the 28 teams who have seized a 2-0 lead in a League Championship Series, 24 have advanced to the World Series. The Braves, the best regular-season team this de-cade, are now faced with the prospect of having to win twice in San Diego to send the series back to Atlanta.

Tom Glavine (0-1), the fav-ourite for the National League Young Player Award, was an unlucky loser, allowing one run and six hits over six innings - in which he threw 121 pitches.

After John Rocker and Rudy Seanez each recorded a scoreless inning, 20- year-old Odalis Perez was hit hard in the ninth, surrendering a pair of runs and four hits.

"The pitching is old hat, but he never ceases to amaze us still, especially with the bat." San Diego shortstop Chris Gomez said of Brown. "I don't like calling him just a pitcher because he's a great all-around player."

In the sixth inning, with two outs, Gomez and Brown both singled through the short-stop hole. Quilvio Veras then singled up the middle, but Brown got thrown out at third.

Brown, who had struck out the side in the first inning, got Chipper Jones to ground out in the ninth inning before striking out Andres Galarraga and Ryan Klesko to end the game just as he had started.