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Jordan Is the Flavor of the Month

Dodgers: He has come through with big hits in September, just as he did with Cardinals and Braves.

September 21, 2002|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Brian Jordan is rolling again with a National League playoff berth at stake, so it must be late September.

The Dodger left fielder does his best work as the regular season winds down and the pressure rises, providing daily reminders about the importance of the month and moment with each clutch hit. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves previously benefited from Jordan's contributions down the stretch of postseason races, and the Dodgers are hoping they don't waste his latest timely performance.

Jordan has delivered as the Dodgers chase the San Francisco Giants for the NL wild-card berth, but the cleanup batter can only do so much with their rotation in tatters and time running out.

"He's getting those big hits when we've really need them, and that's the reason why we're still in this thing," right fielder Shawn Green said. "Teams are pitching around me and choosing to challenge him, and he's making them pay."

Jordan is having his best month of the season, batting .304 with five home runs, 24 runs batted in and a .594 slugging percentage in 19 games.

Overall, he is batting .274 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs in 121 games.

His statistics seemingly aren't that impressive, but they look better considering Jordan has played the entire season on a damaged left knee, was on the disabled list in August because of a strained lower back and was sidelined in May with a strained abdominal muscle.

And Jordan thought playing for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons was tough.

"How am I? Well, I'm holding up and doing what I have to do to stay on the field," said Jordan, who plans to undergo knee surgery immediately after the season. "I'm salvaging my season and giving us a shot, and that's why they brought me over here."

Jordan delivered in the four-game showdown at Dodger Stadium with the Giants pitching around No. 3 batter Green, hitting a grand slam in Monday's 7-6 victory and getting three hits and three RBIs in Thursday's 6-3 victory.

A Giant victory Thursday would have given them a three-game lead with nine games to play, but Jordan led the way.

"When we needed hits the most, he came through with some big ones," first baseman Eric Karros said. "In some clutch RBI opportunities ... he's allowed us to breathe a little bit easier."

Jordan helped the Braves hold off the New York Mets and clinch their 10th consecutive division title last season, capping a seven-run rally Sept. 29 with a two-out, ninth-inning grand slam in an 8-5 victory. He batted .333 for the Cardinals in September of 1996 as they won the NL Central.

"I'm used to those situations," Jordan said. "I hit behind Chipper Jones for three years in Atlanta, Mark McGwire in St. Louis and now I'm hitting behind Greenie.

"Teams trying to make the playoffs are going to take a chance with me instead of Chipper, or guys like McGwire or Greenie, because I'm not a home run hitter. I accept that and just look at it like a challenge."

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