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2004 MLB Post Season Scores Schedules Probables Statistics Teams

Posted: Sunday October 10, 2004 12:54AM; Updated: Sunday October 10, 2004 5:33PM

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Jose Lima entered Saturday's game with 9-1 record and 3.08 ERA this season at Dodger Stadium.

By John Donovan,

Turning Point
The Dodgers needed some help from somewhere -- from anywhere -- to stay alive in this series. They got it in the third inning, from a lot of places.

St. Louis starter Matt Morris was the first in the give-L.A.-a-hand line when he hit second baseman Alex Cora on the hand to begin the inning. Brett Mayne singled to right, sending Cora to third and bringing up Dodgers starter Jose Lima in a clear bunting situation.

What the Dodgers were looking for was a second-and-third situation with one out. What they got was even more help.

When Lima squared to bunt, he popped the pitch straight down and the ball bounced straight back up and hit his bat again. At least that's how it looked on the replays. But the home plate umpire never saw it. Catcher Mike Matheny jumped on the bunt and decided to go to second base to get the force out. But Mayne beat the throw to the bag, and everyone was safe.

Morris almost slipped out of the bases-loaded jam, getting Cesar Izturis and Jayson Werth on short popups. Then he jammed the lefty-swinging Steve Finley with an 0-1 pitch that shattered his bat -- and the ball, somewhat miraculously, skidded down the left field line for a two-run double.

A hit-by-pitch, a botched bunt that worked out, an ill-conceived defensive choice, a broken-bat opposite field double with two outs ... just what the Dodgers needed.

From the Bench
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy decided to go with Lima in the ninth inning instead of using closer Eric Gagne, and it paid off. Lima threw only six pitches to burn through the heart of the Cardinals' order -- Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds -- and notch the complete game. The strategy will help Sunday, too. With Odalis Perez starting Game 4, the Dodgers now have a full complement of rested relievers in another must-have game. They may need them all, too. Perez went only 2 1/3 innings in the Game 1 start in St. Louis, though he threw only 55 pitches. Maybe the best thing to come out of this game for the Cardinals is that they went easy on their pitchers, too. Starter Morris went seven innings and threw 106 pitches, and lefty Steve Kline went the other inning, throwing just seven pitches. Cal Eldred faced a batter and threw five pitches, too.

Clubhouse Confidential
Finley's two-run double was his first in 10 at-bats in the series. He entered the game 3-for-21 against Morris. ... The crowd of 55,992 was the largest in venerable Dodger Stadium in 16 years, since Game 2 of the 1988 World Series. ... One of those 55,000-plus was former action star and current California politico Arnold Schwarzenegger. ... Lima allowed just one Cardinals player to reach third base. Leadoff man Tony Womack led off the game with a single, stole second base and went to third on a double-play ball. He was stranded there when Scott Rolen struck out. ... Rolen went 0-for-4 Saturday and has yet to get a hit in 10 at-bats in this series. He's walked three times and struck out three times. ... Before the game, Lima was enraged when the stadium operations people turned down the music on the public address system. ... A postseason game that lasts just 2:23? Somebody pinch me.

Bottom Line
If nothing else, the Dodgers grabbed back a little lost pride with their win. Clearly, they still have a little fight left in them.

More clearly, they're still a big underdog.

They won Saturday, but it took the game of Lima's life, a broken bat double and two solo home runs from Shawn Green. They're still getting a crummy series from Finley (1-for-12), Cora (2-for-11) and Izturis (1-for-13), among others. And other than Lima, remember, their pitching has been terrible.

Still, in Dodger Stadium, in front of a rowdy Blue crowd, the Dodgers have a chance. If Perez can pitch like he did a couple of weeks ago against the Giants (eight innings, three hits, two runs) instead of how he did in Game 1 against the Cardinals, the Dodgers have a chance.

If not ... well, at least they gained back that pride.

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