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Sanders makes double play

Prime Time arrived just in time _ exactly 17 minutes before the first pitch did.

Deion Sanders got out of a stretch limousine at Three Rivers Stadium at 8:26 p.m. Sunday, ending a 20-hour, 1,000-mile odyssey that saw him play baseball and football then suit up for baseball again.

Sanders emerged wearing shorts, Windbreaker, baseball cap and sunglasses and was hustled into the Atlanta Braves' locker room just before Game 5 of the National League playoffs with the Pirates. As has been his custom recently, he declined comment.

But his attorney, Eugene Parker, who made the trip that began shortly after the end of Game 4, said Sanders never doubted he'd make it back.

"With Deion," Parker said, "it has to be dramatic."

Shortly before noon, Sanders left his Florida hotel with his Atlanta Falcons teammates as fans rhythmically chanted his nickname, "Prime Time! Prime Time!" But around 5 p.m., he limped out of Joe Robbie Stadium after taking glucose intravenously to combat the lingering effects of fatigue brought on by the heat and humidity in Miami.

Asked whether Sanders had expressed any regrets about the grueling trip, Parker said, "Once he makes a decision, one thing about Deion, he doesn't look back."


Former Pirates slugger Bobby Bonilla, who played with the Mets in 1992, was a pregame visitor. Sunday was the first birthday of Patrick James Leyland, the son of Pirates manager Jim Leyland. Atlanta's John Smoltz, by improving his NL playoff record to 4-0, tied Steve Carlton's record for consecutive NLCS wins and career NLCS wins. Atlanta's Otis Nixon tied an NL playoff record with four hits Saturday and matched an overall playoff record with five consecutive hits over two games.

_ MARC TOPKIN and the Associated Press