HOUSTON (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves are one victory from advancing to the NL Championship Series for the ninth time in 10 years.
Problem is, their next two chances are at Turner Field, which might be right where the Houston Astros want them.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead in their first-round NL series with the Astros with a 1-0 victory Wednesday. Tom Glavine led the way with eight sharp innings, and Atlanta scored its only run on another error by Houston shortstop Julio Lugo.
"This was big," said John Smoltz, who pitched the ninth for his second straight save. "There is no understating it. Every year, somebody says we are on our way out. It's fun to be going home 2-0."
There's the rub.
The Braves had the worst home record a playoff team has ever had, going 40-41. Houston was the NL's best road team, winning a franchise-record 49, including two of three games in Atlanta.
"There's no reason to think we can't make it interesting," Astros cleanup hitter Lance Berkman said.
Shane Reynolds will start for Houston against John Burkett, and he'll be trying to reverse one of the bleakest records in franchise history. Not only have the Astros never won a playoff series, they've lost all six games once they've faced elimination.
Should he pull it out, Houston will go with rookie sensation Roy Oswalt in Game 4 against Greg Maddux. A fifth game back at Enron Field would feature Wade Miller against Glavine.
"You hate to go to Atlanta two down," said Dave Mlicki, who pitched five solid innings Wednesday, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter in a crucial situation. "But we've got Shane, Roy and Wade, three good pitchers, going for us. So I like our chances down there."
The teams will work out Thursday at Turner Field. The Braves might do so without manager Bobby Cox, who late Wednesday went to Birmingham, Ala., to be with his ill sister. Joy Rogers suffered a brain hemorrhage and was in intensive care.
Cox learned about it before Game 2, but stayed on the bench. The team announced the news when Cox declined to do postgame interviews. A spokesman said he was too distraught to speak.
Glavine, who said he didn't know about Cox's sister, limited Houston to six hits, striking out three and walking two.
Houston's best chance was in the fifth when Brad Ausmus hit a ball that came so close to being a two-run homer that it ripped the top of the padding just below the yellow stripe across the top of the wall in left field.
"We've seen some weird things with that scoreboard," Ausmus said. "It's helped us and it's hurt us."
In the final two weeks of the season, Moises Alou hit a ball off the same wall that ricocheted off the scoreboard and into the stands for a homer.
"He should've had more topspin on it, like I did," Alou said, laughing.
The play reminded Atlanta left fielder B.J. Surhoff of another weird one he witnessed in the postseason.
"Fortunately, nobody reached over in a situation like we had one year in New York," said Surhoff, who was with Baltimore when 12-year-old Jeff Maier created a game-tying homer by Derek Jeter in the 1996 ALCS by reaching out to grab a ball that was about to be caught.
Surhoff played this one perfectly, keeping runners at first and third. Glavine fought back from a 3-0 count to strike out pinch-hitter Chris Truby, and Craig Biggio bounced out.
"You hear over and over that the postseason is about pitching and defense. We've proven that the last couple of days," said Glavine, who improved to 10-0 in Houston since June 1991.
Atlanta's only run scored in the second when Surhoff doubled and Andruw Jones followed with a grounder up the middle. Lugo dove and stopped it, then threw to first.
His low throw got past Jeff Bagwell, allowing Surhoff to go to third. Jones got a single for the hit, and Lugo got an error for the throw. Surhoff scored on a double play groundout by Rey Sanchez.
Lugo, who had a first-inning error on a high throw to Bagwell, botched a grounder Wednesday that could've started an inning-ending double play with the score tied at 3 in the eighth. Instead, Chipper Jones followed with a three-run homer and Atlanta won 7-4.
"Maybe there are other shortstops in the league who would be better," Astros manager Larry Dierker said, "but I don't think there's anybody on our team who's better."
Notes: Lugo didn't redeem himself at the plate, flying out to right with two outs and a man at second in the eighth. With an 0-for-4 game, he's 0-for-7 in the series. ... The Braves hit into four double plays, three starting with line drives to third baseman Vinny Castilla. Houston hit into three. Seven is a division series record. ... Andruw Jones tied a playoff record with five straight hits.
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