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Braves 5, Indians 4

March 30, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Fred McGriff hit his third home run in two games and Atlanta beat Cleveland 5-4 Friday night as the teams returned to the park where the Braves clinched the World Series title over the Indians last year.

McGriff, who has six home runs this spring, hit a pair in a 12-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles Thursday, driving in five runs.

He connected for a two-run shot in the fourth Friday night off Indians starter Brian Anderson.

Mike Mordecai hit a solo shot _ his third of the spring _ in the fifth off Julian Tavarez (0-1) and Dwight Smith added a two-run double in the seventh off Eric Plunk.

The matchup was ``no big deal,″ said Atlanta starter John Smoltz, who went the first four innings, allowing three hits and two runs _ a two-run double by Manny Ramirez in the fourth. Ramirez had a pair of hits and three RBIs.

The Indians added two runs in the eighth off Pedro Bordon on four straight hits, the last two RBI singles by Jim Thome and Ramirez.

Mike Bielecki (1-0), bidding for the 11th and final spot on the Braves pitching staff, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, a walk and striking out two, including a called third strike to Albert Belle with a runner on third and one out.

Bielecki, released last season by the California Angels, was out of baseball until two weeks ago.

``I had heard the Braves were looking for a long man, called and (Bobby) Cox invited me down to spring training.

``I’m feeling like a 19-year-old rookie out there,″ said Bielecki, who pitched previously for the Braves in 1991-92 and 1994.

``I haven’t slept in two nights″ from thinking about making the club, Bielecki said.

``He didn’t hurt his chances,″ said Cox, who will make a decision later this weekend.

The crowd was announced at 33,337 tickets sold. Actual attendance was closer to 23,000.

It was in stark contrast to the noisy, capacity crowd of 51,875 last Oct. 28 when the Braves beat the Indians 1-0 on Tom Glavine’s one-hitter and a solo home run by David Justice to win the World Series in Game 6.

The two clubs had met for the first time since last October on Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Indians won that one 3-2 in a game Cleveland appeared to take more seriously than the Braves.

In the first inning of that game, Cleveland’s Kenny Lofton tossed his bat in anger after being called out on a third strike, and manager Mike Hargrove was ejected after the inning for continuing to argue about the pitch.

That was not the case Friday night.

Both clubs behaved, although the fans, quiet for most of the game, managed to get boisterous when Belle batted, booing the Indians left fielder on each of his four at-bats, then cheering wildly when he struck out against Bielecki.

Belle had a double and single and scored a run.

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