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Baseball: NL playoffs

Pitcher tries best to lighten the mood

Ever the entertainer, Jose Lima tries to keep the Dodgers upbeat as they face elimination.

By Associated Press
Published October 9, 2004

LOS ANGELES - He sings, he dances. He serves as the Dodgers' unofficial cheerleader, racing nonstop around the dugout and constantly pumping his teammates up. Most important, Jose Lima pitches - and very well at Dodger Stadium.

He'll pitch there tonight against the Cardinals in the most important start of his life.

After beating Los Angeles by identical 8-3 scores in the first two games of the division series in St. Louis, the heavy-hitting Cardinals can put the Dodgers away with another victory.

Ever the optimist, Lima sees a bright side.

"If we win and push the series to Sunday, anything can happen," he said. "I've got to come and give my heart to this team. If we lose, it's "see you in spring training.' I want to stay in the playoffs a little longer - at least get to Sunday."

Lima sang God Bless America and the national anthem before the Dodgers' game against the Cubs on May 13. He also performed with his band, Banda Mambo, at the team's annual Viva Los Dodgers Hispanic Heritage festival, and performed at the Conga Room, a Los Angeles nightclub, later that night.

On the late-night flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles after the Dodgers lost Game 2, Lima behaved the same way he would have had his team won the first two games.

"He was playing his music on the bus, so he was getting fired up already," Dodgers closer Eric Gagne said. "He changed the mood a little bit because everyone was down."

That's understandable, especially considering how they lost the two games.

First, the Los Angeles starters, Odalis Perez and Jeff Weaver, weren't effective, combining to allow 12 runs in 71/3 innings. The Cardinals scored 13 of their 16 runs with two outs.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, drew seven walks in Game 2, but their only runs came on three solo homers.

"I think the one thing about this team - we've been playing our best baseball all year with our backs against the wall," said Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth, who hit one of those homers. "I think that would definitely be the case as we go into the weekend."

Lima, who went 9-1 with a 3.08 ERA in Los Angeles and was 13-5 with a 4.07 overall, will oppose Matt Morris (15-10, 4.72).

"We feel good any time he goes out there," Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds said of Morris, who went 6-6 with a 6.02 on the road.

[Last modified October 9, 2004, 01:03:23]


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