ST. LOUIS -- Suddenly Eric Gagne hasn't gotten enough work. The Dodgers reliever extraordinaire hasn't been used to close out a game in a week.
The set of circumstances is so strange that Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said he hopes to get Gagne into the mix in tonight's Game 2 of the Dodgers' National League Division Series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium even if the score becomes lopsided in either direction.
The Dodgers lost Game 1 of the series, 8-3, and Gagne was left sitting on the bullpen bench. Friday is another off-day as the best-of-five game series shifts to Los Angeles for at least Game 3 on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. PT.
"Most teams like to see us use him when we're just trying to keep him sharp," Tracy said as his team tried to break a 16-year postseason losing streak that encompasses seven consecutive defeats. "With another day off on Friday we would more than likely be looking to find an inning just to get him a little bit of work."
Gagne made 70 appearances this past season, posted a 2.19 earned run average, and converted 45 of his 47 save opportunities. Yet, he began to have arm troubles as the National League West race against the San Francisco Giants headed into the final week of the season. Gagne was given a cortisone shot in his right shoulder to quell some tendinitis.
He pitched a week ago Thursday against the Colorado Rockies in a game the Dodgers won in 11 innings and hasn't pitched since, sitting out last weekend's season-closing three-game series at Dodger Stadium against San Francisco and Tuesday's first game of the NLDS. The Dodgers clinched the division title on Saturday and finished two games ahead of the Giants.
Gagne, who has converted 152 of his 158 career save chances, including a record 84 in a row at one point, said his arm feels great and he's getting antsy not participating at crucial junctures of significant games.
"It's a helpless feeling knowing that you can't do anything for your team," Gagne said. "I don't like that part. I'm ready to pitch. I mean, I feel great. My arm feels good. There's no game tomorrow so I'd like to get at least an inning in. But I'd like to be in when it really means something. I want to get in there when we're winning. I'm real eager."
Eric Gagne / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Gagne, though, can't come stalking out of the bullpen into action at his trademark "Game Over" moment if the Dodgers don't score runs and the starting pitching is not effective.
The Dodgers have been outscored, 18-3, in the last two games against the Giants and Cardinals. Kazuhisa Ishii pitched the first five innings on Sunday in a 10-0 loss and was left off the Division Series roster. And Odalis Perez didn't make it out of the third inning Tuesday, allowing three of the Cards' record five home runs.
Jeff Weaver, Thursday's starter for the Dodgers, said his goal was to bridge the gap to Gagne so the hard-throwing, right-handed French Canadian is used in a key situation.
"I'm going to go out there and try to do my job," Weaver said, "and that's to hopefully hand the ball over to Gagne with the lead and end up with the victory."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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