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NL PLAYOFF NOTES

Diamondbacks Missing Gonzalez

October 04, 2002|Associated Press

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks sure miss Luis Gonzalez.

Without their most dangerous hitter, the defending World Series champions scored three runs in the first two games of the National League division series against St. Louis.

Now, they're facing a quick exit from the postseason.

The Diamondbacks managed six hits in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in Game 2 on Thursday and must win three straight to avoid elimination, beginning with Game 3 on Saturday in St. Louis.

"When one guy gets hot, that's when a lot of guys get hot," catcher Damian Miller said. "You get timely hits, and you string hits together. Lately, we just can't string any hits together and drive in those runs."

Gonzalez, who led the team with 28 homers and 103 runs batted in this season, separated his left shoulder in a collision with shortstop Tony Womack while the two were chasing a pop fly in St. Louis on Sept. 23.

The All-Star slugger hit 57 homers last year and has topped 100 RBIs four straight seasons. He got the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the World Series last season against the New York Yankees.

Wearing a sling on his left arm, Gonzalez threw out the first pitch before Game 2 at Bank One Ballpark. He had surgery Monday and vows he will be ready to play by the start of spring training.

But the Diamondbacks need him now, in October.

Without Gonzalez, they have 12 singles and two doubles in the first two games of the playoffs.

Junior Spivey, who led the team in batting (.301) and runs scored (103) during the regular season, is two for 10 in the series. He squandered a couple of RBI chances Thursday.

"I'm a good enough hitter to come up with big hits in big opportunities, and I wasn't able to do it with two outs and runners in scoring position," Spivey said.

An error by St. Louis helped Arizona score its only run in Game 2, on Quinton McCracken's RBI double in the eighth inning. Miller also doubled for the Diamondbacks.

After Randy Johnson was roughed up in Game 1, the Diamondbacks couldn't muster enough offense to support a strong outing from their other ace, Curt Schilling.

"It's a little deflating when you've got those two big horses and you're 0-2," Miller said. "It's not the best feeling in the world."

*

Although he may miss the rest of the playoffs, Cardinal third baseman Scott Rolen has no hard feelings toward Arizona's Alex Cintron.

"It was just one of those things that happen," said Rolen, who injured his shoulder when Cintron ran into him on the basepaths. "He made an aggressive play. That's what you're supposed to do. That's the way you play the game."

Said Cintron: "The ball, myself and Rolen came together. I didn't see Rolen come charging the ball. I've got to run. He's got to charge the ball. When you're running and it's 3-2, your mind is like 'You've got to go.' "

*

The roof was closed at Bank One Ballpark, even though it was 74 degrees outside at game time. The reason given by Major League Baseball was comfort of fans whose seats would have been in the sun.

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