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DODGERS FYI

In Dodgers' clubhouse, talk is of Casey at the plate

Casey Blake's ninth-inning at-bat with two out ended in a walk but prompts teammates to call him a hero.

October 09, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

On the far end of the Dodgers' clubhouse, the vote was unanimous.

The most important at-bat in the Dodgers' 3-2 come-from-behind victory wasn't that of Ronnie Belliard, who tied the game with a two-out single. Nor was it the one taken by Mark Loretta, who drove in the deciding run.

The honor was bestowed on the two-out, nine-pitch walk by Casey Blake that put men on first and second. Then Belliard drove in the tying run.

"The hero of this game was Casey Blake," Belliard said.

Two lockers down, Rafael Furcal shared that opinion.

"The at-bat by Casey Blake is the at-bat that won the game," he said.

First calling Blake's plate appearance a "turno" -- the Spanish word for at-bat -- Furcal quickly corrected himself.

"El turnazo," he said.

Translation: Great at-bat.

Hitless in his first three at-bats, Blake went up to hit with pinch-runner Juan Pierre on second base after Matt Holliday dropped James Loney's line drive.

Facing closer Ryan Franklin, Blake tried to check his swing on a 1-1 pitch off the plate, but first base umpire Mike Everitt ruled that he failed to do so, putting him in a 1-and-2 hole.

"I had to calm down," Blake said. "I was pretty fired up."

Blake took a cutter low and away.

Two and two.

He fouled off a cutter on the outer half of the plate, then took another that was away.

Three and two.

He fouled off two more cutters on the outside part of the plate.

"I thought he would change it up and throw something different -- a curveball, a cutter in," Blake said.

Franklin finally did, uncorking a four-seam fastball that was high for ball four.

Kershaw in control

Clayton Kershaw didn't pitch like a 21-year-old -- and Manager Joe Torre didn't treat him like one.

When Kershaw put men on base, Torre let him stay on the mound. When Kershaw felt discomfort in his right shoulder that he separated last month, Torre let him stay on the mound.

Kershaw gave up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings in the first postseason start of his career, but he limited the Cardinals to two runs, leaving the Dodgers in position to mount their ninth-inning comeback.

Torre's only criticism: "We just have to figure out a way to get our left-handers to get left-hand hitters out."

Randy Wolf had that problem in Game 1. And Kershaw gave up two hits to the only left-handed hitter in the Cardinals' lineup, Colby Rasmus, who singled in the fifth inning and hit a run-scoring double in the seventh.

Kershaw's only other mistake was a solo home run he served up to Matt Holliday in the second inning.

Torre said that Kershaw hurt his right shoulder when running out a groundout in the sixth inning.

"By the time we got to talk to him -- not that he would ever admit it to us -- he said it was gone," Torre said.

Manny's streak ends

By finishing the day 0 for 4 with a strikeout, Manny Ramirez ended his nine-game postseason hitting streak. He hit in each of the Dodgers' eight playoff games last season.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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