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Glavine rages against machine

Tom Glavine thinks a machine is ruining baseball. Especially for him.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner lost to his old team for the third time this season as the Atlanta Braves beat the Mets 6-3 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep and make Russ Ortiz the league's first 12-game winner.

Glavine blamed the loss partly on the machine used to evaluate umpires, saying it has caused them to shrink his strike zone to an impossibly narrow width.

"I know my name has been brought up in the Questec argument," he said. "I'm the poster child."

At Shea Stadium, where the Questec system is used, Glavine is 2-7. On the road, he's 4-2.

He says umpires have told Mets catchers they will not call pitches on the corners at Shea because they don't want the machine to give them poor grades.

"Why not eliminate that altogether and have an electronic strike zone?" Glavine said. "That's almost what it's coming to."

Glavine said he has heard complaints throughout his career that his strike zone "was 24 inches wide and everyone else's was 10." Echoing the complaints of Arizona's Curt Schilling, he says it's no longer possible to know in advance what's a ball and what's a strike. Because of that, Glavine says only power pitchers can be successful. Finesse guys who work the corners are out of luck.

"You can ask the hitters. They don't know what the strike zone is. Nobody knows," he said. "It's not just me they're doing this to. They've done it to a lot of good pitchers."

Glavine estimated the computer cost him 8-10 pitches Wednesday that would have been called strikes in the past, about 10 percent of his total. The change caused him to fall behind in the count.

"If it's 2-0 vs. 1-1, that's a big deal," he said.

He thought he pitched well, and so did the Braves, but Glavine allowed three of his first four batters to score as hits fell in as if it were intrasquad batting practice.

He walked leadoff man Rafael Furcal, gave up a one-out single to Gary Sheffield, then allowed Chipper Jones' bloop run-scoring single down the rightfield line, Andruw Jones' soft run-scoring single to center and Javy Lopez's sacrifice fly.

Julio Franco reached for a low, outside pitch in the sixth for a two-run homer that put Atlanta ahead 5-1, and Glavine made an early exit two batters later, with some fans booing as he walked to the dugout, head bowed.

"Glavine is the same pitcher," said Lopez, his former catcher. "I don't see anything different. He was throwing the same way as when he was with us."

Many Braves are quite familiar with Glavine, who spent 16 seasons with Atlanta before signing with the Mets in December. New York expected him to lead the Mets back into the playoffs.

Instead, the eight-time All-Star heads into the break with a losing record for the third time.

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