Dodgers excited, but keep eye on prize
From experience, team knows clincher can be elusive
ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers are one win away from clinching.
The last time they needed one win, it was to clinch the National League West -- and they lost five games trying to do it. This time, they don't have five games to lose.
So even though they've won both games for what appears to be a commanding lead in the best-of-five NL Division Series, they know how tough it can be to win one game.
"We do know that," said catcher Russell Martin. "But this couldn't be more different, not the same thing at all. These are the playoffs. We have to get one more win to advance. We can't afford to let up."
Manager Joe Torre agreed.
"The division is something we were supposed to win. I don't put this in the same category," said Torre. "[St. Louis] is capable of winning three games in a row. We have to make sure we play better than they do. We can't go in here tomorrow and think that, 'OK, we've got a 2-0 lead; it shouldn't be a problem.' Any time we start thinking like that, we're going to get [beaten]."
The Dodgers arrived here after a bumpy overnight flight and had their late afternoon workout moved indoors by rain. Hitters took batting practice in the indoor cage, pitchers played catch in the soggy outfield and the clubhouse was cleared by 6:30 p.m. local time.
The mood in the clubhouse was about as loose and upbeat as would be expected coming off the kind of exhilarating win they pulled off one night earlier.
"Yesterday's game is a game which could be used as a learning tool for a lot of kids who think the game is over," Torre said. "It's never over -- 27 outs, you can't run out the clock. You just have to get every single out, and the last three or four are really tough."
Casey Blake, who put together one of the most exciting walks in Dodgers history during the winning rally, was watching video and called teammates over to enjoy his act after scoring the winning run. One step past home plate, he did a spin-out and went sprawling in the dirt.
"Everybody was going the other way to get to Mark Loretta," Blake said, referring to the game-winning hitter. "I tried to change direction and, wham, I'm down."
On the second pitch of the at-bat, Blake tried to check his swing, but first-base umpire Mike Everitt ruled a strike on appeal and Blake, now in an 0-2 hole, was livid. He waved off Everitt in disgust, shouting something that easily could have earned an ejection. Instead, he walked on nine pitches after fouling off three.
"I was really mad," said Blake. "I took a walk for about 20 seconds and the plate umpire told me to get in the box. But, you know, when I get mad like that, for whatever reason it helps me focus on what I need to focus on.
Torre said none of his players were injured in the ensuing pandemonium.
"[Third-base coach Larry Bowa] got slammed by [Andre] Ethier or somebody and pulled a hamstring," said Torre. "We can live with that."
Torre repeated his praise for Game 2 starter Clayton Kershaw, who kept the Dodgers in the game while dueling Adam Wainwright.
"I thought Kershaw maybe didn't have his best stuff, but he battled Wainwright tooth and nail," said Torre.
Kershaw, meanwhile, confirmed that he felt twinges in his right (non-throwing) shoulder while sprinting to first base during a couple at-bats. He said he was told he can expect such discomfort following a separation for several months, especially on movements such as arm pumping while running. He said it has no impact on his pitching.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.