Joe Torre said on Saturday that he has called too many team meetings. So what did the Dodgers manager do as soon as the team had finished their batting practice?
The Dodgers think small to pull off a big victory
LOS ANGELES // Joe Torre said on Saturday that he has called too many team meetings. So what did the Dodgers manager do as soon as the team had finished their batting practice? He called another one. "He told us that if we relaxed, we would start to win," one player said. Well, it worked.
A night after being blanked by the San Diego Padres in the opening game of their three-game series, the Dodgers responded with only their second seven-run game in the last 15 days, taking a 7-4 decision. But Torre did more than utter words of reassurance in the team's weight room, taking Manny Ramirez out of the lineup and replacing him with Juan Pierre. Torre explained that Ramirez was due to rest for the final game in the series, but with the Dodgers' offence stalled the manager decided he might as well move up Ramirez's day off to give the team a new look. "Think a little bit more small and aggressive and try to manufacture more rather than to wait for something big to happen," Torre said.
Pierre was 0 for 4 but drew a walk in the Dodgers' two-run first inning. He hit a hard grounder that Everth Cabrera could not handle in the second inning, the play resulting in two errors for Cabrera and two runs for the Dodgers, who increased their lead to 4-0. Pierre moved Rafael Furcal from second to third on a bunt in the sixth and watched from the bench as Furcal was driven in on a double by Andre Ethier.
A couple of slumping Dodgers had huge nights, as Furcal was two for four with a walk and three runs and James Loney was 2 for 2 with two walks and two runs batted in. The Dodgers did not completely abandon the long ball, as Ethier hit his 28th home run, a solo shot against reliever Edward Mujica in the fourth inning. Torre made light of the fact that he had Ramirez on the bench, saying: "It's nice to know you have him back here.
"Now I have Jim Thome and Ramirez, former Cleveland teammates, sitting there, trying to make me brilliant." The Padres certainly did their part to help the Dodgers' cause, sending rookie starter Mat Latos, 21, to the mound to serve up four runs in the first three innings. Cabrera made three errors, two on the grounder hit to him by Pierre and another on a grounder by Matt Kemp in the fourth inning. Kemp stole second base and scored on a single by Loney.
* Los Angeles Times