The Atlanta Braves are holding off on a decision on closer Billy Wagner, who was injured in their dramatic Game 2 victory Friday night in San Francisco.
Wagner hurt his left oblique and is unlikely to pitch again in the best-of-five National League Division Series. But if Atlanta replaces him on the roster against the Giants, he wouldn’t be eligible for the NL Championship Series, should the Braves advance.
Manager Bobby Cox said yesterday the Braves would try to get by with a 10-man staff if they thought Wagner could return for the NLCS in a week. He’ll be evaluated before Game 3 this afternoon. The best-of-five series is tied, 1-1.
Takashi Saito, who was left off the roster because of an ailing right shoulder, threw a scoreless inning in the instructional league and would appear to be the top candidate to replace Wagner. Jair Jurrjens and veteran Scott Proctor, who spent most of the year at Triple A, are also possibilities.
In Game 2 Friday night, Kyle Farnsworth induced a double play in the 10th inning to thwart a rally and Rick Ankiel splashed a home run into McCovey Cove in the 11th as the Braves rallied from a four-run deficit to beat San Francisco, 5-4.
Farnsworth and Ankiel joined Atlanta together at the trade deadline from Kansas City.
Another midseason acquisition, Alex Gonzalez, hit a tying two-run double in the eighth against majors saves leader Brian Wilson. Gonzalez came in a swap with Toronto.
The Braves pulled this one out with Cox watching the final nine innings from the clubhouse after his third career postseason ejection.
Farnsworth pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings for the victory, relieving in the 10th after Wagner was injured. Farnsworth escaped a bases-loaded jam when Buster Posey grounded into an inning-ending double play that was started by late-inning replacement Troy Glaus, who had played only nine games at third base the past two seasons.
Ankiel’s drive on a 2-and-2 pitch from Ramon Ramirez was just the second splash homer in the postseason at 11-year-old AT&T Park.
Wagner, who plans to retire after the season, grabbed at his left side after chasing pinch hitter Edgar Renteria’s bunt single to start the inning.
The lefthander then fielded Andres Torres’s sacrifice bunt back to the mound, threw to first for the out and immediately grabbed at the area near his left hip before crumbling to his knees.
Wagner, 39, walked slowly off the field with a trainer.
“We’re not going to write him off yet,’’ Cox said. “He’s probably done for this series. We’re not sure.’’
Farnsworth entered and hit Freddy Sanchez on the right hand with his third pitch. Sanchez went down writhing in pain and was quickly examined, but went to first base.