Atlanta Braves reached their third World Series in five years with a 6-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday to win the best-of-seven National League Championship Series in four games.
Steve Avery and three relievers held the stifled Reds to three hits. "This is what it's all about," said Avery. "I'm proud of myself. We shut them down. I never would have expected that in a million years.
"Our being able to do that against a very good ball club shows we were doing everything right," said Atlanta's Chipper Jones. "To go out and sweep a team like that is unbelievable."
"Things just kind of went downhill for us," said Red's Ron Gant. "We had no luck in this series. Everything went their way and you have to take your hats off to them. They deserve to go to the World Series and probably win."
By completing the first four-game sweep in the 10-year history of the best-of-seven NLCS, the Braves, who have appeared in the last four, now will have been in three of the last four World Series played. However, the Braves have not won a World Series since 1957.
The Reds scored a total of five runs in 39 innings in the series, a record low for a four-game NLCS. They had averaged five runs a game during the regular season.
"They aren't the first team that has experienced the wrath of our pitchers," said Jones. Mike Devereaux, a late replacement after David Justice was injured during batting practice, hit a three-run homer in a five-run seventh inning to break the game open and was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player.
Avery, making his first start of the post-season after being moved to a relief role because of shakiness during the regular season, allowed two hits in six innings. He walked three, struck out six and left with a 1-0 lead.
"I just wanted to feel a part of the success that our pitchers have had," said Avery. "I also wanted to prove to myself that everything was fine. I don't know if someone put a curse on me this year. Maybe things have turned around now."
Now, the team owner, media tycoon Ted Turner, and his actress wife Jane Fonda, thirst for a World Series victory.
"If we play the way we can, we can beat anybody," said Avery. "It's all about having four good games. We've been winning the close games this year. Maybe it will carry on."
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