10/07/2004 11:34 PM ET
Dodgers outslugged in Game 2
Werth, Bradley, Green go deep as LA falls to 0-2
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers have 53 successful comebacks this year, but now they must come back from the verge of elimination.
Because of another 8-3 loss to St. Louis in Game 2 on Thursday night, the Dodgers must sweep the Cardinals three straight (in Los Angeles on Saturday and Sunday, in St. Louis on Monday) to become the fifth team since the current format began in 1995 to come back from the brink.
"We've played our best all year when our backs have been against the wall," said outfielder Jayson Werth. "Our backs are about as far as they can get against the wall now."
The Dodgers remained winless in the postseason since 1988 and winless at Busch Stadium in five games this year, despite home runs from Werth, Shawn Green and Milton Bradley.
They led, 1-0; trailed, 3-1; tied at 3. They chased Cardinals starter Jason Marquis in the fourth inning, but Steve Finley left the bases loaded in the fourth after getting ahead in the count, 3-0, and the Dodgers were held hitless by the Cardinals bullpen over the last 4 1/3 innings.
"That was our opportunity," manager Jim Tracy said of Finley's at-bat.
Meanwhile, a St. Louis offense that slugged five homers in Game 1 didn't need any this time, but with two outs was clutch enough to be 7-for-15 with two walks, two hit batters and seven RBIs. The heart of the St. Louis lineup went 1-for-11, but hitters six through eight -- Edgar Renteria, Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny -- went 8-for-10 and Matheny drove in four.
"That's not a very good formula for success," said Tracy.
Dodgers starter Jeff Weaver, trying to shake the stigma of allowing a walk-off home run to Alex Gonzalez in last year's World Series for the Yankees, did no better at keeping his club close than did Odalis Perez in Game 1.
The Cardinals stung him for a pair of three-run rallies and he was removed after allowing six runs on eight hits, two walks and two hit batters in 4 2/3 innings, only marginally better than the six runs Perez allowed in 2 2/3 innings of Game 1.
|Shawn Green slugs his first career postseason home run during Game 2. (Tom Gannam/AP)
|Teams to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game postseason series:||Year
|*Divisional playoffs in strike-shortened season|
The Dodgers starting pitching, believed by many to be their weakest link coming into the series, has a two-game ERA of 14.73.
"It's tough to win in the postseason when the other team is scoring a lot of runs," said Green.
Weaver's been struggling awhile. He had one win after Aug. 26 and a 6.03 September ERA and continued that trend in this game, although he felt he pitched better than his line indicated.
"They got two-out hits, we didn't. They made the plays, we didn't," said Weaver, who pitched 220 innings during the regular season. "I felt real good. I made pitches all night. I kept the ball in the yard. I got the big boys out. Soft singles killed us tonight."
Weaver gave up more than soft singles, but he also received little help from a defense that routinely made spectacular plays during the regular season but in this game was hard-pressed to handle routine plays. Weaver drew the only official error on a pickoff throw that allowed St. Louis' first run to score.
"I would have rather gotten my brains beaten in than lose on a bunch of hits like that," said catcher David Ross. "Jeff knows he threw well today. He had good stuff. It's easier to take when they hit five home runs."
The Cardinals in these two games showed they can do it either which way, and they have a bullpen deep enough to stop the bleeding when the starter exits early.
"We're in a familiar position," said Finley. "Our backs are to the wall. We're not giving up. Ask all you want, we're not giving up."
Werth, playing with a sore throwing elbow, gave the Dodgers their first lead in the series, turning around a 94 mph, 2-1 pitch with one out in the first inning for a home run to left-center.
Dodgers defenders failed to make plays in the second inning and the Cardinals capitalized. Renteria led off with a looping hit to right field that would have been a single, but Bradley's diving attempt came up empty and the ball rolled behind him, allowing Renteria a double.
Sanders pushed a bunt at second baseman Alex Cora, who fielded bare-handed, but his flip to first was on a bounce and Green couldn't short-hop. With runners on the corners, Weaver tried to pick off Sanders, but his throw sailed into the runner and Green was unable to catch it, allowing Renteria to score and Sanders to advance to second.
After popups from Matheny and Marquis, Weaver mislocated a sinker to Tony Womack and he smoked it over Bradley's head off the right-field fence. It caromed away from Bradley far enough to allow Womack an RBI triple. Larry Walker grounded a two-hopper over the first-base bag and a diving Green was only able to tip it with his glove, as Walker reached second and Womack scored easily.
But the Dodgers tied it with back-to-back home runs from Green and Bradley, the latter's a monster shot marked off at 461 feet. They also loaded the bases on three walks, but grand-slam hero Finley flied out to end the inning.
St. Louis regained the lead in the fifth. Weaver drilled Walker with a pitch leading off and Albert Pujols hit a rocket that exploded past second baseman Cora for a single. Weaver got Scott Rolen on a fly ball and caught Jim Edmonds looking at a third strike, but Renteria stroked a high sinker to center for a tie-breaking single.
The Cardinals broke it open in the seventh on Matheny's second two-run single.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.