Baseball-St Louis batters finally spark in Game Four

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A few hours before Tuesday's Game Four, St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said his team was "just a click off" and ready to break out of a batting slump in their bid to take a 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

By the time the game ended in front of a subdued home crowd, Matheny was proved right in emphatic style as the Cardinals struck two home runs on the way to a 4-2 win that put them on the brink of clinching in the best-of-seven series.

"We just had some good players put into position to do what they do, and they did it well tonight," Matheny told reporters after the St Louis batters delivered when it mattered after scoring a total of just four runs in the previous three games.

In the top of the third inning, Matt Holliday blasted a two-run homer that flew over left field an estimated 426 feet into the Dodgers bull-pen, and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson followed suit by homering on a fly ball to left field in the seventh.

"We have some guys that are prepared to come off the bench and take big at-bats," Matheny said. "I think teams may overlook a Shane Robinson and what he can bring to the plate.

"You definitely acknowledge and tip your hat to the guys that, when it's not their night to start, that they're ready to go when they get the opportunity.

"Hopefully, we can throw some offense together like we were today a little bit and keep some positive thoughts going," he added, referring to Wednesday's Game Five, also in Los Angeles.


Earlier in the day, Matheny had been confident his batters would regain explosive form after mainly struggling against the top Dodgers pitchers in the opening three, low-scoring games of the National League Championship Series.

"This team has gone through lulls, just like every other team offensively," Matheny said. "We know that we have the offensive potential. The numbers back that. The guys' belief in themselves backs that.

"But we've got to get it going. We've got to figure out a way. We've got to get it started and hopefully it will put one of those good, long runs together.

"The honest valuation is we have a couple guys that are just a click off, and it's not far. We're seeing some balls and real good swings on a couple balls that are mistakes in the middle of the plate."

The Cardinals can book a place in the World Series by winning on Wednesday, but they will have to contend with ace Dodgers pitcher Zach Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young winner, who will be boosted by his home fans at Dodger Stadium.

"We certainly don't talk about wonderful positions," Matheny said. "What we talk about is we've got a game to play tomorrow. We've got a huge responsibility to go out and play it the right way.

"Right now, we've got no problem celebrating this one (the Game Four win). Every one of these in the post-season are so tough to come by.

"But we really don't get too much beyond what we have tomorrow and realise that we have to go out and play a good game. We've got to have the solid pitching and play a clean defense." (Editing by John O'Brien)

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