"Bo," Torre said, "I think he can pitch, but I don't want him messing up this clubhouse."
Bowa assured Torre that Padilla had not been a problem for him in Philadelphia and would fit in fine. Colletti called back Katz and arranged for another meeting, this time with Padilla, in a conference room at Dodger Stadium. "I can tell you need us; otherwise you wouldn't be here," Colletti told Padilla. "To some extent, we need you. I'm prepared to give you a clean slate. But you will be the one to write the next chapter—not me, not Joe Torre, not anybody else."
Colletti, convinced that Padilla would not risk being thrown off two contenders in the final two months of his walk year, signed him to the prorated major league minimum. For about $80,000 Padilla went 4--0 with a 3.20 ERA down the stretch, earning so much confidence from Torre that Padilla started the Game 3 clincher ahead of Chad Billingsley, the staff leader in wins. Padilla throttled St. Louis with seven shutout innings.
By Game 3 the Dodgers had drained the fight out of the Cardinals, having come from behind to win games started by their aces, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, including a Hollywood ending to Game 2. Down to their last out with nobody on base and trailing 2--1, the Dodgers won 3--2, when five consecutive batters reached base against Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin, the capper a walk-off, chili-dipped single by Mark Loretta, who had been 0 for 15 against Franklin. The avalanche had started when Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday dropped what should have been the last out, a soft liner that he lost in the stadium lights, fumbling for the baseball around his midsection like someone grasping for dropped car keys in the dark. It was the first time, after 1,501 career putouts, that Holliday had been charged with an error for dropping a ball. It was the first time in the 1,239 postseason games played that a team had lost after making an error on what should have been the 27th out of a win. Talk about your Holliday breaks.
We got lucky," acknowledges Torre, who otherwise worked the series like a puppeteer. Among his aggressive moves, Torre took the bat out of Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols's hands by walking him in every key spot, even if it meant loading the bases with no outs in the first inning of the first game (the Dodgers escaped with only one run scoring); yanked his Game 1 starter, Wolf, in the fourth inning with a lead; and brought in his closer, Jonathan Broxton, in the eighth inning of every game, most notably while trailing 2--1 in Game 2, a move that surprised even the L.A. coaches.
When asked by Torre to get the closer up in the bottom of the seventh of Game 2, bench coach Bob Schaefer said, with surprise, "We have other guys we can go to. "We can go to...."
Torre cut him off.
"Get Broxton up."
Said Colletti as he sipped and dripped champagne after Game 3, "If Joe doesn't make that move, I'm standing here dry. He just has a knack of knowing when the game is tilting just a little the wrong way and how to tilt it back in his favor."
Torre has won more postseason games (83) than any other manager in history, and his 14 teams since 1996 have made the playoffs every year and played even better in the postseason (.619 winning percentage) than in the regular season (.597). Way back in the fourth game of that 134-game postseason run, in the 1996 ALDS, Torre watched his starting pitcher, Kenny Rogers, give up two runs in the second inning to Texas, at which point his bench coach, Don Zimmer, told him, "You better get somebody up."