When the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros meet in the 2021 World Series, they will rekindle a playoff rivalry that produced plenty of big moments over the years. Atlanta and Houston matched up in the NLDS five times between 1997 and 2005. They haven’t met in the postseason since the Astros moved to the American League in 2013. Below is a snapshot of each series which featured plenty of big names and future Hall of Famers.
1997 - Braves win 3-0
The Braves and the Astros first met in the Division Series in 1997. This one was a lopsided victory in Atlanta’s favor with the big three of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz playing a huge part. Maddux outdueled Darryl Kile in the series opener tossing a complete game allowing seven hits and one run in a 2-1 Braves win. Ryan Klesko homered off Kile in the second and proved to be the difference.
Atlanta’s offense exploded for 13 runs in Game 2. The Braves took advantage of eight walks by Mike Hampton who also allowed two hits and six runs over 4 2/3 innings. Tom Glavine allowed five hits and three runs over six innings.
John Smoltz put the nail in the coffin in Game 3 allowing just three hits and one run in a complete game victory. He struck out 11 in a dominant performance. Chipper Jones had three hits including a first inning home run off of Shane Reynolds.
1999 - Braves win 3-1
The two teams met again in 1999. This time the Astros defeated Maddux in the opener at Turner Field 6-1. Maddux allowed 10 hits and two runs over seven innings, but Mike Remlinger was tagged for three hits and four runs over the final two innings. Atlanta’s offense was held in check by Reynolds and the Houston bullpen with their only run coming in the fifth on a RBI single by Gerald Williams.
Atlanta’s pitching took center stage in Game 2 but this time it was Kevin Millwood who took center stage. Millwood tossed a complete game one-hitter to help the Braves to a 5-1 win. Houston’s only run came on a solo home run by Ken Caminiti in the second inning. Klesko had three hits for Atlanta while Brian Jordan drove in a pair of runs.
Game 3 was likely the most memorable play from the series. Tom Glavine allowed five hits and two runs over six innings. The Braves were clinging to a 3-2 lead in the seventh, an inning that featured a two-batter relief appearance by Maddux. Bill Spiers tied the game with a single off Remlinger later in the inning.
The game headed to extras and Houston threatened to walk it off in the 10th. Russ Springer allowed a walk and two singles to load the bases with no one out. John Rocker entered and got Carl Everett to ground out as Atlanta threw home to cut down the lead runner for the first out. Walt Weiss then made the play of the series with a diving stop on a liner off the bat of Tony Eusebio, stumbled to his feet and fired to Eddie Perez at the plate for the second out.
Rocker struck out Ricky Gutierrez to send the game to the 11th. Brian Jordan plated two with a double in the 12th and Millwood came out of the bullpen to record the final three outs.
Smoltz allowed four runs over seven innings in Game 4 but Atlanta scored seven times to take the series with a 7-5 win.
2001 - Braves win 3-0
The two teams wouldn’t meet again until 2001 with Atlanta coming out on top again in a three-game sweep. Maddux allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings for the Braves but Wade Miller was up to the task allowing just two runs over seven. The signature moment of this series came in the eighth when Billy Wagner came on to face Chipper Jones with two runners on and the game tied 3-3. Chipper at this point was 0-for-8 with six strikeouts against Wagner but jumped on a first-pitch fastball and drove it out to left to put the Braves up 6-3. Atlanta went on to win 7-4 with Smoltz pitching the final two innings to pick up the save.
The Braves won Game 2, 1-0 with the game’s only run scoring on a double play. Glavine tossed eight shutout innings and Smoltz worked a scoreless ninth. Game 3 featured homers by Paul Bako, Julio Franco and Chipper in support of John Burkett as Atlanta advanced with a 6-2 win.
2004 - Astros win 3-2
The Braves came up short in five games against the Astros in 2004. Roger Clemens beat Jaret Wright in Game 1 as Atlanta fell 9-3. Andruw Jones homered off Clemens in the fifth. Carlos Beltran went 3-for-3 and homered in the win for Houston.
The Braves evened the series in Game 2 as Rafael Furcal hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 11th for a 4-2 win. Roy Oswalt allowed one run over 8 1/3 innings for Houston. Mike Hampton allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings for the Braves. Smoltz tossed three scoreless innings of relief.
Johnny Estrada and Andruw Jones both homered for the Braves in Game 3 but they would come up short in an 8-5 loss. John Thomson faced just three batters before exiting due to injury. He was replaced by Paul Byrd who allowed seven hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Beltran added two more hits including a homer in the win.
Facing elimination, Atlanta rallied late for a 6-5 win in Game 4. Russ Ortiz allowed five runs in the second after the Braves had taken a 2-0 lead in the top half of the inning. Adam LaRoche tied the game with a three-run home run off of Chad Qualls in the sixth and a single by J.D. Drew in the ninth scored Furcal to give the Braves the win.
However, the series would end with a whimper as Beltran homered two more times to lead the Astros to a 12-3 win in Game 5.
2005 - Astros win 3-1
Houston would win again in 2005 but this also would be a memorable series. Andy Pettitte outdueled Tim Hudson in Game 1 as the Astros won 10-5. Chipper and Andruw both homered for Atlanta but Morgan Ensberg had three hits and drove in five runs for Houston.
The Braves evened the series in Game 2 as Smoltz, who was back as a starter, allowed one run over seven innings to best Clemens. Rookie catcher Brian McCann hit a three-run home run off of Clemens in the second inning and the Braves never looked back winning 7-1.
The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 7-3 win in Game 3. Atlanta starter Jorge Sosa allowed three runs over six innings. Roy Oswalt allowed three over seven, but Chris Reitsma, John Foster and Joey Devine allowed four runs and didn’t retire a batter in the seventh.
Game 4 was epic and unfortunately, Atlanta came out on the losing end. The Braves took a 4-0 lead on a third inning grand slam by LaRoche.
They took a 6-1 lead into the eighth when Lance Berkman hit a grand slam off of Kyle Farnsworth.
Brad Ausmus tied the game in the ninth with a solo shot off of Farnsworth and the game headed to extra innings.
The game remained tied until Chris Burke hit a walk-off homer off of Joey Devine in the bottom of the 18th to give Houston a 7-6 win and a 3-1 series win.
Burke entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 10th and ended up getting three plate appearances. The 18 innings set a postseason record and lasted a whopping five hours and 50 minutes.