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Maddux's status is in limbo

He beats Giants, 2-1, for 355th win, but Torre isn't saying whether the pitcher is a part of the Dodgers' playoff plans.

September 28, 2008|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers Manager Joe Torre made it clear that when it comes to assembling his playoff roster, there will be no room for sentimentality about any one player.

That includes pitcher Greg Maddux, 42, four Cy Young Awards or not.

"I like to think I'm loyal to my players, but when it comes down to something as immediate as the postseason, I'm more loyal to the 25" total players on the team, Torre said.

That's why it's still uncertain what role, if any, Maddux will play when the newly crowned National League West champions open the best-of-five division series Wednesday.

Torre said the first three starters would be Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda, in that order. Lowe also presumably could start Game 4 if the series goes that long.

But Maddux, who had struggled since joining the Dodgers on Aug. 19, helped his cause with a strong outing Saturday as the Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants, 2-1.

Blake DeWitt provided the offense with a home run and run-scoring single. And Takashi Saito got three quick outs in the ninth inning for his 18th save.

Maddux (8-13) gave up only two hits -- one of them a home run by Randy Winn -- in six innings to earn his 355th victory that lifted him from an eighth-place tie with Roger Clemens on the all-time victory list.

"I still want to pitch, feel like I can pitch," Maddux said. "Mentally, it makes you feel better going into the postseason."

Torre has to cut the Dodgers' roster to 25 players for the playoffs, and said he planned to carry 11 pitchers. If Maddux doesn't earn a starting spot, he could be used in relief, Torre said.

"I'd rather pitch out of the bullpen than go home," Maddux said.

Before Saturday's game, Torre silently gave an ambiguous shrug when asked whether Maddux would be in the playoffs.

Minutes later, he was asked the same question in a different form: Was Saturday's game Maddux's last of the season?

"I hope not, I hope not," Torre said.

With the regular season ending today, the Dodgers still didn't know whether they'll face the Philadelphia Phillies or Chicago Cubs when the playoffs start Wednesday.

Regardless, there are question marks about the Dodgers' lineup heading into the series.

It's still unclear whether Saito, who spent two months on the disabled list because of an elbow problem, will be the main closer in relief.

"It's nice to see him have that kind of inning," Torre said of Saturday's save. "I feel the more he does that the more comfortable he's going to get."

Jeff Kent's situation, meanwhile, also appears fluid. Torre initially said the veteran second baseman, who just returned from knee surgery, would be a pinch-hitter in the playoffs

But after Kent started Friday and Saturday, Torre said Kent might start in the playoffs, too. And on Saturday, Kent played first base "just to give us a little more flexibility in how we use people," Torre said.

"The knee's doing great," Kent said. "I think it's a testament to the training staff for getting me healthy, it's a testament to the coaching staff for giving me opportunities.

"I took it one day at a time and pushed as hard as I could."

Billingsley also threw a scoreless two innings in relief of Maddux to tune up for the playoffs.

Staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Historic win

Greg Maddux moved into eighth place on the all-time list of victories.

*--* Name Wins 1. Cy Young 511 2. Walter Johnson 417 3. Grover Alexander 373 Christy Mathewson 373 5. Pud Galvin 365 6. Warren Spahn 363 7. Kid Nichols 361 8. Greg Maddux 355 9. Roger Clemens 354 10. Tim Keefe 342 *--*

Note: Maddux won 194 games for the Atlanta Braves, 133 for the Chicago Cubs, 20 for the San Diego Padres and eight for the Dodgers.

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