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REPORT

McKeon Has Seen a Comeback Before

October 12, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Jack McKeon has been in this position before.

In 1984, as general manager of the San Diego Padres, McKeon watched his team rally for three consecutive victories over the Chicago Cubs to win the National League championship series after facing a two-games-to-none deficit.

It will take a similar turnaround for the Florida Marlins, managed by McKeon, to overcome a 3-1 deficit in this championship series after the Cubs routed the Marlins, 8-3, Saturday night at Pro Player Stadium.

History is on the Cubs' side. Since the league championship format switched to a best-of-seven format in 1985, only three teams have overcome a 3-1 series deficit. The Atlanta Braves were the last team to accomplish the feat, in 1996.

McKeon said he might mention the Padres' storybook comeback when he addresses his players today before Game 5.

"It would be a good story," the Marlin manager said. "You can't give up."

Chicago Manager Dusty Baker said he is not assuming his team will win the series, even though the Marlins would have to beat star pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood to pull off the comeback.

"You've got to close it out," said Baker, whose San Francisco Giants squandered a three-games-to-two advantage over the Angels in last season's World Series. "It's not over yet, big time. They're not going to give up and they're not going to give it to you."

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Matt Clement's sterling outing Saturday allowed the Cub bullpen to recuperate after Chicago relievers had pitched 4 1/3 innings during Game 3.

"That was big," said Clement, who gave up five hits and three runs over 7 2/3 innings while striking out three and walking two. "Any time you go out there you want to get as deep as you can for that fact, whether you throw complete games or not, to save the bullpen."

Said Baker: "I knew he had a good one in him. It was big for him, big for his confidence, for possibly the next start."

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Aramis Ramirez's 10 runs batted in in the series broke the franchise record of nine held by Wildfire Schulte. Ramirez's two home runs Saturday -- his second and third of the series and third and fourth of the postseason -- increased the total number of homers hit to an NLCS-record 16.... With four first-inning runs, the Cubs have outscored their opponents, 14-1, in the first inning of the playoffs. They have outscored the Marlins, 11-0, in the first inning of this series.... Mike Lowell started at third base for Florida, and rookie Miguel Cabrera made his first start in right field since Little League.

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