By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The St. Louis Cardinals could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu after establishing a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series but manager Mike Matheny does not want to "live in the past".
The Cardinals have twice squandered that advantage to lose the series, most recently to the San Francisco Giants last year, and on Wednesday they slipped from 3-1 ahead to 3-2 after being beaten 6-4 by the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five.
The series now shifts to St. Louis for Game Six on Friday, as well as Game Seven on Saturday if required, and Matheny hopes his players can learn from the lessons of the past without becoming too focused upon them.
"We've been very clear about the urgency," Matheny told reporters after Los Angeles had dominated Game Five at Dodger Stadium by blasting four home runs.
"Not that we had a lack of it last year, as much as just let's remember and a realization of how quickly that can change, not to take anything for granted.
"Right now, just keep playing the game. Don't get too far ahead, but also don't live in the past. Remember what happened, learn from it and let's see if we can change the course."
The Cardinals had opened up a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers with a 4-2 victory on Tuesday and were ideally placed to make a fast start to Game Five with bases loaded and no outs in the top of the first inning.
However, Dodgers starter Zach Greinke recovered by striking out Matt Adams and then getting Yadier Molina to ground into an inning-ending double-play for that opportunity to be lost.
"Well, we're definitely pretty excited about the opportunity we had right there," said Matheny. "There was a little momentum going, no question, if we're able to plate one, a couple.
"Our guys have been so good all season long in that situation, but it does happen. They're not going to be 100 percent good. You do give credit when they're able to do those and turn them around."
Asked how his hitters tried to approach former Cy Young winner Greinke, who allowed just two runs and six hits while striking out four in seven innings, Matheny replied: "I felt like they put together some pretty good at-bats.
"You've got to have the timely hits. We put some guys on base in that opportunity. You don't get many when you face top-tier pitchers. We had a couple opportunities to do something, and just couldn't make it happen.
"These guys have done a tremendous job in those exact same situations all season long. You're going to have games where you just can't make it happen. We've got to figure out a way to get it done the next time we get a chance." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
- Sports & Recreation
- Mike Matheny
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Francisco Giants