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After Rocky Start, Pendleton Delivers : Baseball: He drives in five as Braves go to 11-0 against Colorado and put the heat on Giants.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

He tried to say that he wouldn’t be staying up to watch the telecast of the San Francisco Giants’ game from Los Angeles. He tried to say he was too old and had to get to bed.

Then Terry Pendleton winked and took a seat in front of the trainer’s room TV to watch, at least, the early moments of that game, having proven he’s not too old to pull a leg or revive echoes of his first two seasons with the Braves.

The 32-year-old third baseman, the National League most valuable player in 1991 and maybe better last year, drove in a season-high five runs Friday night as the Braves defeated the Colorado Rockies, 7-4, before 48,968 nervously chopping fans.

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“We’re one step closer and we have to feel pretty confident with (Greg) Maddux pitching tomorrow and (Tom) Glavine on Sunday,” Steve Avery said after combining with Greg McMichael on a six-hitter that gave Atlanta an 11-0 record against the Rockies.

Closer? Closer certainly to the end of the regular schedule and closer to a possible Monday night playoff with the Giants for the NL West title. Avery (18-6) and his teammates left the clubhouse long before the Giants pulled out an 8-7 victory over the Dodgers to remain in a 102-58 tie with the Braves with two to play.

The 102nd victory enabled the Braves to tie a franchise record established by the Boston Beaneaters, their distant ancestors, in 1892 and ‘98, but all 102 means to these Braves is, as shortstop Jeff Blauser said, “We’ve played at a very high level and we’re still not out of the woods.”

In the wake of Thursday night’s 10-8 loss to the Houston Astros, however, the Friday night victory was critical.

“It was big for me considering what I haven’t done this year, but it was bigger for the team,” said Pendleton, who had a run-scoring single in the first, a three-run homer in the third and drove in a fifth run with a groundout in the eighth.

Pendleton has a .270 average, 17 homers and 80 runs batted in, but he said, “I should have 180. I just haven’t done my share. In fact, Fred McGriff came up to me today and said he was tired of carrying me.”

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Pendleton laughed in recollection of that good-natured jab but added, “I’ve always been a slow starter, and this year I was extremely slow. I dug myself a hole I’m still trying to dig out of. It felt good to contribute like this. Maybe I’ve been trying too hard.”

The Rockies came in a different team than the one Atlanta dismembered in those first 10 games. They were 37-11 since Aug. 8, the major league’s third-best record in that span, and 17-9 in September, matching the best month ever by an expansion team.

However, Greg Harris, who is 11-17 on the season and 1-8 since his acquisition from San Diego, couldn’t contain the Braves.

A bunt single by Otis Nixon and a pair of walks to Ron Gant and McGriff preceded a two-run single by David Justice and the RBI single by Pendleton in the first.

Walks to McGriff and Justice were followed by Pendleton’s homer to dead center in the third.

“There’s a pride and motivation factor when a pitcher works around the guys ahead of you,” Pendleton said. “I’d do the same the way I’ve been hitting, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

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The Braves got only one hit after the fourth, but Colorado didn’t do any better. Avery found his rhythm after giving up two runs in the second and two in the fourth on Chris Jones’ homer.

The Rockies got only one more hit off Avery before McMichael worked the ninth for his 17th save.

Atlanta’s Fab Four starters had a 5.06 earned-run average over their last nine starts and there was speculation they had reached a fatigue point, but Avery’s performance seemed to dismiss that.

“We’re still the best around,” he said.

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