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The Clinching Score Was Awfully Tough to Miss

GAME REPORT: PADRES 5, DODGERS 2

September 28, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

The Dodgers clinched their playoff berth in the top of the third inning Friday night when the scoreboard above the left-field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium broke the news:

Braves 6

Expos 4

"You can't help but look at that scoreboard," Manager Bill Russell said. "Look at the size of that board."

Yet, the news of the victory barely provided a ripple of enthusiasm. The only Dodger who openly rejoiced was outfielder Brett Butler, who's on the disabled list with a broken left hand. And there was only a smattering of applause among the crowd.

"I don't think it's a thing to celebrate," said Fred Claire, executive vice president. "We set out to win the division. That's the thing to salute."

*

If the Dodgers clinch the division today, Chan Ho Park probably will take Ramon Martinez's start on Sunday against the Padres. Yet, if the game still has an impact on the wild-card race between the Padres and Expos, Russell said that he will play most of his starters.

"We'll do what's best for the team," Russell said, "but we're going to put a team out there that's competitive.

"If we win it, I don't think you'll see Ramon until Tuesday. There's no need."

*

The Dodgers, who will keep Juan Castro on the playoff roster instead of Chad Fonville, now must find some playing time for him. Castro has not played since Sept. 15 and only once since Sept. 4. "I'd like to get him in there," Russell said. . . . The Dodgers' biggest fear about a possible one-game playoff game between the Padres and Expos is that they would have to sit around all day waiting for the outcome. If the Expos were to win the wild-card berth, the Dodgers would travel to Montreal and open a series Tuesday against the Expos. If the Padres win the wild-card berth, the Dodgers will play Tuesday in St. Louis. . . . The Cardinals already have decided that Todd Stottlemyre will pitch Game 1 of the playoffs, Andy Benes will pitch Game 2 and Donovan Osborne Game 3. . . . Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn, who is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his heel, is one of four Padres who face off-season surgery. Third baseman Ken Caminiti (rotator cuff) and starters Andy Ashby (shoulder) and Joey Hamilton (shoulder) are the others. . . . The Padres say they will file a protest with the National League office if Expo starter Pedro Martinez is allowed to appeal his suspension and start in the season finale.

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