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Lemke reflects on RBI single off Mo in '96 Series


TAMPA, Fla. -- When Mark Lemke produced an RBI single off Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1996 World Series, his only thought was that he had just brought the Braves within three runs of the Yankees.

Seventeen years later, Lemke can take pride in the fact that the hit scored Marquis Grissom with the first of the 13 runs -- 11 earned -- that Rivera has surrendered in 96 career postseason games.

"It's a little more significant now than it was then," Lemke said. "It was actually a pitch over my head, and I tomahawked it and lined it off the pitcher's mound into center field. I couldn't believe I hit the ball."

Before the Braves and Yankees played at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday afternoon, Rivera announced he will retire at the end of the upcoming season. The 43-year-old closer has totaled a Major League-record 608 regular-season saves (681 opportunities) and compiled a 0.70 ERA in 141 postseason innings.

Rivera has converted eight of nine save opportunities and allowed four earned runs in 11 regular-season innings against the Braves. Each of those four earned runs and the blown save were recorded on July 16, 1999, at Turner Field. Andruw Jones supplied most of the damage courtesy of a three-run, ninth-inning home run that helped the Braves win despite Greg Maddux allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings.

In 10 1/3 career postseason innings against the Braves, Rivera has surrendered seven hits and allowed just the one run created by Lemke's single.

"It's like he almost becomes more invincible when the postseason comes around," said Lemke, who is currently a part of the Braves' radio broadcast team. "That's what is amazing about him. You see a lot of great players, and it's not fair to judge their postseason like when you have great hitters who might not have a great postseason. But when you take a great player who is great the whole season and then he gets even greater in the postseason, that is incredible."

Each of the hurlers who own the top five ERA among pitchers with at least 140 postseason innings have significant ties to either the Yankees or Braves. This group includes Rivera (0.70), John Smoltz (2.67) Whitey Ford (2.71), Greg Maddux (3.27) and Tom Glavine (3.30).

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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