LOS ANGELES -- Red-hot Atlanta and streaking Los Angeles got back to business here Friday night. And Jonny Venters, the Braves' one-pitch wonder, figured life would get back to normal after he unexpectedly scooped up his first career save Thursday by throwing, yes, one pitch.
While the Braves hooted and hollered and kidded him into Friday, the circumstances weren't funny.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox summoned Venters, a 25-year-old rookie whom the Braves picked in the 30th round of the 2003 draft, to finish off Martin. Billy Wagner, the Braves' closer, was unavailable because he had worked four games in the preceding four-day span.
One slider later, job done.
And Venters still hasn't heard the end of it.
"When we were walking in, Bobby was screaming at me, calling me a vulture," Venters said Friday, grinning. "And [closer] Billy Wagner has been ragging me all day. Every time he comes around, he tells me he has to win his job back.
"He calls me 'The Closer.'"
Though Venters has finished five games this season, Thursday's was his first save opportunity. He's appeared in 17 games as a situational lefty and compiled a 1.27 ERA and a .181 opponents' batting average in 21 1/3 innings.
When he reached the mound after Saito limped off Thursday with the Braves clinging to the one-run lead, Cox had just one piece of advice for him.
"He told me, 'If you're going to throw a slider, throw it down," said Venters, who proved to be a good listener just a few seconds later.
Aside from the Braves' teasing and, yes, warm congratulations, Venters received several other messages.
"Quite a few," he said. "I had a bunch of texts last night when I came in. Mostly from family and friends."
As for the ball, it was safely tucked away on a shelf in his locker.
"That's probably going into a case," he said. "I never thought it would be like that -- if I even ever got a save."
Likes: Beautiful drawing of retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox on the cover of the Braves media guide. Nice angle, from behind Cox in the dugout as he's looking out onto the field at Turner Field. ... Really nice moment during batting practice Friday -- several moments, actually -- when Dodgers manager Joe Torre walked over to visit with Cox and the two future Hall of Fame managers spent 20 or so minutes sitting on the bench in the visitors' dugout, chatting. ... Got a chuckle earlier this week when, in the Mets' clubhouse, the song American Pie was blaring from an iPad in Alex Cora's locker. ... Henry Schulman, Giants beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, says Pittsburgh is a far better city than generally given credit for. I could not agree more. And the picture of this Primanti Bros. salami sandwich in his San Francisco Ball Scribe Blog made me wish I was sitting through that Pirates-Giants rain delay Friday night with one of those bad boys on a plate in front of me. ...
Dislikes: John Wooden, sleep well. Sad, sad day. If the world had more John Woodens, I guarantee you there would be far fewer problems. What a sweet and tear-jerking sentiment from former UCLA player Jamaal Wilkes, who said he was in the room with Wooden's son, James, when Wooden asked to be shaved, and noted that "his son made the comment that when he got shaved he was getting ready to see Nellie." Nell is Wooden's late and beloved wife, who died of cancer in 1975.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Don't give up on your dreams
"Or your dreams will give up on you"
-- John Wooden