Baseball: Record blitz keeps Braves' hopes alive

The Atlanta Braves kept alive their hopes of retaining the World Series with a 14-0 demolition of the St Louis Cardinals on Monday. The victory cut the Cardinals' lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven-games National League Championship Series.

Although St Louis still lead the series, they must win in Atlanta to face the New York Yankees in the World Series, which begins on Saturday. The Braves have won eight of their last nine post-season games at home, but no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series. However, St Louis is the only team in Major League history to blow a 3-1 twice lead in the post-season - in the 1968 and 1985 World Series.

Chipper Jones and Jeff Blauser drove in two runs each in a five-run first inning for Atlanta, who added another two runs in the second. Javy Lopez and Mark Lemke both tied the championship series record with four hits. Atlanta had a total of 22 hits, breaking the championship series record of 16 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1984.

John Smoltz, the favourite to win the Cy Young award, won his third post- season game and his 27th game this year. Even he joined in the hitting spree, going two for four with an RBI and a run scored. He said: "We felt all along that, with a couple of plays, we could turn this series around. Maybe we did that tonight."

Gary Gaetti, the Cardinals third baseman, said: "Everything happened so fast the game wasn't even frustrating. I don't think it mattered what we did. They just kicked our butts."

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