Baseball: Key locks door on Braves

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THE Atlanta Braves were last night attempting to claw themselves back from the brink of their second consecutive defeat in baseball's World Series and, in a bizarre coincidence, it was Jack Morris, their nemesis in game seven against the Minnesota Twins last year, who was again seeking to pitch them over the edge, writes Richard Weekes.

Morris has not been the dominating post-season presence for the Toronto Blue Jays that he was for the Twins in 1991, but such distinctions meant little to the Braves after their 2-1 defeat in the SkyDome on Wednesday that left them 3-1 down in the best-of- seven Series.

Tom Glavine, who pitched well enough in his second complete game of the Series for Atlanta, voiced his team's frustration after the loss. 'Nothing's happening for us. We're on the verge right now,' he said. 'I feel good about my effort. It's a pitchers' Series. The hitters are not getting anything going.'

That the Braves' bats were unable to get much going was largely the result of a superb display of controlled pitching by Toronto's left-hander Jimmy Key, who, in his first start for 16 days, retired 20 out of the 21 batters he faced between the first and seventh innings.

Key, who will be a free agent after the Series, may have been pitching his last game for the Blue Jays. 'It crossed my mind as I was walking off the field,' he said. 'That was probably why I tipped my hat. I don't usually do that.'

Once again Glavine gave up an early home run. Pat Borders, the Toronto catcher, extended his team's post-season record for home runs in consecutive games to 10 when he hit the ball off the left- field foul pole in the third.

'It was a good time, in a low- scoring game like this,' Borders said. 'To be honest, I wasn't trying to hit a home run.' The Blue Jays added a second run in the seventh when Devon White singled and sent Kelly Gruber sliding head- first across the plate.

The Braves tried to climb back into the game when they got three men aboard in the eighth inning, but two superb defensive plays by Gruber and John Olerud restricted the damage to one run.

Once more, the Toronto bullpen, which has allowed only one hit in nine scoreless innings, proved its superiority as relievers Duane Ward and Tom Henke then closed out the game.

(Photograph omitted)