2001 MLB Postseason - Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks

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Weakest link

Lack of pitching depth comes back to haunts D'backs

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Posted: Saturday October 13, 2001 9:10 PM
Updated: Saturday October 13, 2001 9:12 PM
  Albie Lopez Albie Lopez struggled from the start in Game 4, and manager Bob Brenly yanked him after three ineffective innings of work. AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Albie Lopez was no Curt Schilling. He wasn't Randy Johnson or even Miguel Batista.

Lopez gave up four quick runs Saturday, and the Diamondbacks lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1, causing a decisive fifth game in Phoenix.

Before Friday's game, when the series was 1-1, Arizona manager Bob Brenly said that if St. Louis won the third game he would come back Saturday with Curt Schilling (22-6) on three days' rest. Schilling was brilliant in the series opener, pitching a three-hit shutout.

Because Arizona won 5-3 Friday night, Brenly opted to start Lopez, a midseason acquisition from Tampa Bay, and saved Schilling for Sunday's series finale.

Any regrets that he didn't go to Schilling Saturday?

"None," Brenly said.

In his final two starts of the regular season, Lopez gave up just one run in 17 innings. But he was 9-19 with a 4.81 ERA overall and lost 10 consecutive decisions with the Devil Rays.

Saturday's 3-hour, 36-minute rain delay didn't help.

"It was tough not exactly knowing when we were going to start," Lopez said. "I wouldn't say it hurt us, but it didn't help."

Lopez, backed by Steve Finley's first-inning RBI single, started with a lead but struggled from the start. He gave up a leadoff single to Fernando Vina, who stole second and scored on an infield hit by J.D. Drew.

Jim Edmonds hit an opposite-field homer in the second. Then in the third, Lopez walked pitcher Bud Smith after getting ahead 0-2 in the count, and gave up a home run to Vina, who hit just nine during the season.

After Lopez, Arizona's pitching was sharp, with Brian Anderson, Greg Swindell and Mike Morgan combining to allow three hits in five shutout innings.

Arizona's offense, meanwhile, failed to get to Smith. The 21-year-old rookie left-hander walked four and threw 97 pitches in five innings -- 35 in the first inning alone. But he gave up only three hits and wiggled out of a third-inning jam, picking off Tony Womack at second base with two on and no outs.

"It was real big," Brenly said. "That was a heads-up play on their part."

Neither team has come up with timely hits in this series. Arizona is 5-for-29 (.172) with runners in scoring position for the series and St. Louis is 2-for-27 (.074).

With a few hits, the series would be over already. Matt Williams is 0-for-12 and Tony Womack is 2-for-12 (.167).

Greg Colbrunn, who hit just four homers this season, was inserted into the cleanup spot Saturday by Brenly. Colbrunn went 0-for-4, leaving two men on in the first and hitting into a double play in the fifth.

"Our lineup all year has been a day-to-day thing," Brenly said. "We don't have a set A-team on lineups."

Related information
Rookie pitcher helps Cardinals force Game 5
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