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Rookie pitcher impresses

October 11, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Of the six pitchers the Dodgers used Friday night, Russell Martin said he didn't see anyone better than the September call-up who made his postseason debut.

James McDonald, the Dodgers' two-time minor league pitcher of the year, had five strikeouts and held the Phillies scoreless over the 3 1/3 innings he pitched in the 8-5 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

"It wasn't nervousness," McDonald said of his feelings when he ran out of the bullpen with the bases loaded in the third inning. "It was an excitement. This is where I wanted to be. This is where I expected to be."

McDonald struck out Pat Burrell to get the final out of the third. He limited the Phillies to two hits over the next three innings.

Primarily a starter in his career, the 23-year-old McDonald said that the move to the bullpen that accompanied his promotion to the big leagues has required a major adjustment.

McDonald said the best advice he received was from Greg Maddux, who told him he should not hesitate to use every pitch in his arsenal immediately upon entering the game as a reliever.

"I think we found out a little bit about that young man tonight," Manager Joe Torre said.

Kershaw also debuts

Game 2 of the NLCS also marked the postseason debut of 20-year-old left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, an indication that Game 1 starter Derek Lowe probably will pitch in Game 4 on three days' rest. Kershaw and Maddux, who pitched in relief in Game 1, also were being considered to start on that day.

Torre said he wouldn't announce his Game 4 starter until today.

Kershaw, who entered the game to start the bottom of the seventh, said he was glad to get the experience.

"It's different," he said. "It was a great atmosphere."

Saito back on the mound

Takashi Saito, who was left off the NLCS roster, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and said he felt no discomfort in his elbow. Saito returned with the Dodgers to Los Angeles, where Torre said he would throw on the side once or twice more over the next few days.

Saito attributed his poor pitching in the division series to his inability to pitch in many games down the final stretch of the regular season.

"Nothing can be done about that," said Saito, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Sept. 13. "We were in a pennant race."

Short hops

Hiroki Kuroda boarded an earlier flight to Los Angeles than the rest of the team to ensure he'll be properly rested for his Game 3 start Sunday. . . . Left-hander Joe Beimel made his playoff debut. Replacing Chad Billingsley in the third inning, he issued consecutive walks to load the bases and was pulled from the game.


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