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Baseball: NL playoffs

Cardinals stomp Dodgers 8-3

Los Angeles stays close through four innings, but St. Louis takes command with a 2-0 series lead.

By Associated Press
Published October 8, 2004

ST. LOUIS - Mike Matheny, Edgar Renteria and the Cardinals can win with singles, doubles and triples, too.

After tying a postseason record with five home runs in the opener, the Cardinals stayed in the ballpark for Game 2 Thursday night. The result was exactly the same: another 8-3 win over the Dodgers.

Only this time, the hitters at the bottom of the St. Louis order did as much damage as MVP candidates Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.

"It's always nice to take a little pressure off those guys and make them feel like they don't have to carry us every game," Matheny said. "It's amazing to watch those guys day in and day out, to see how consistent they are."

Following a sweep at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals will head to Dodger Stadium with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NL playoff series. The third game will be Saturday night, with Matt Morris trying to wrap it up against Jose Lima.

"It's not going to be easy, that's for sure," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "But I'm not going to sit here and say it can't be done."

Milton Bradley, Shawn Green and Jayson Werth homered for the Dodgers, who lost their eighth straight playoff game and remained winless in the postseason since beating Oakland in the 1988 World Series. The Cardinals combined eight singles, two doubles and one triple, and the closest they came to a home run was a drive to the wall by winning pitcher Dan Haren. Seven of their eight runs scored with two outs as St. Louis used a small-ball approach to chase Jeff Weaver in the fifth inning.

"They got the two-out hits, we didn't," Tracy said. "The bottom part of their lineup did a lot of damage."

Less prominent players in St. Louis' high-powered lineup were largely responsible with the 6-7-8 slots in the order going a combined 8-for-10 with five RBIs and five runs scored.

Matheny, the No. 8 hitter, became the first Cardinals player to get four RBIs in a division series game with two-run singles in the fifth and seventh. Matheny is a career .239 hitter, but is 15-for-39 (.385) during an 11-game postseason hitting streak.

Renteria, the No. 6 hitter, was 3-for-4. His two-out, go-ahead single was the key blow in a three-run fifth that broke a tie and put St. Louis ahead 6-3.

Reggie Sanders was 3-for-3 and scored twice in the No. 7 slot.

"It is gratifying to have the bottom of the order come through," Sanders said. "This is a collective effort."

The Cardinals overcame a shaky outing by 15-game winner Jason Marquis, making his first career postseason start. He couldn't hold a 3-1 second-inning lead, allowing homers to Werth in the first and to Green and Bradley on consecutive at-bats to start the fourth.

The homer by Bradley, the Dodgers' troubled right fielder who had a run-in with a Los Angeles reporter on the off-day Wednesday, was a drive estimated at 461 that ricocheted off the right-field scoreboard.

Marquis lasted only 31/3 innings and allowed three homers for the second time of the year. Both came against the Dodgers and both had added pressure - his Sept. 10 outing in Los Angeles came on the day his first daughter, Reese, was born, and he was unable to get a flight in time to be present for the birth.

[Last modified October 8, 2004, 00:48:05]


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