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WSI News - News Watch

Ritchie pitches well, Sox lose anyways

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox took a page out of Lou Piniella's playbook Friday night, forcing Frank Thomas to make a defensive play at first base with the game on the line.

The strategy worked as well for Cox as it did for Piniella's Seattle Mariners in the 2000 playoffs, giving the Braves a 3-2 victory over the White Sox before 35,102 at Turner Field.

After the Sox tied the game in the eighth on Thomas' RBI double, the Braves put runners on first and third with one out in their half of the inning. Sox manager Jerry Manuel replaced starter Todd Ritchie with left-hander Damaso Marte to turn around the switch-hitting Rafael Furcal.

On an 0-1 pitch, Furcal dropped a safety squeeze bunt toward Thomas, scoring the go-ahead run from third as Thomas fumbled the ball while attempting a barehanded grab. It was reminiscent of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2000 division series, when Seattle's Carlos Guillen drove in the run that clinched the series with a squeeze bunt in Thomas' direction.

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