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Perez gets another shot at Cards
10/10/2004 2:35 AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers got to see what Lima Time is all about in the postseason, now it's time to see what happens at Dodger Stadium when the playoff clock strikes Perez Time.

Odalis Perez gets the ball on Sunday for Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals, a contest that will be played because Jose Lima shut down St. Louis with a complete game on Saturday to prevent the Dodgers from being swept in the NLDS in their third straight appearance.

But Perez is coming off a disappointing start in Game 1 at Busch Stadium, a game in which the left-hander allowed six runs on five hits and exited after just 2 2/3 innings. In his biggest start of his career, Perez turned in his shortest start in over a year.

The southpaw will have a chance to win an even bigger game on Sunday to even the series. In doing so, he would be wise to take a cue from Lima, who gave the Dodgers a shot in the arm with his dominating win over a Cardinals team that has won 107 games this season.

"If you're sitting there watching the performance that Jose Lima pitched [Saturday] and the way he went about it, one thing I think is very safe to say is this, obviously, is a club that you don't want to be in too many situations where you're pitching from behind," said manager Jim Tracy.

"I think aggression is something that really comes to mind that you have to implement and use both sides of the plate and get them swinging the bat. You have to do that and you have to make quality pitches. Like I said earlier with Lima, he threw balls tonight when he wanted to throw them, to set up another pitch.

"If you're going to beat this club, that's the way you have to go about doing it."

Lima used 109 pitches (74 strikes) in his complete game, while Perez tossed nearly half that amount (54, 35 strikes) without reaching the fourth inning in Game 1.

"They want you to get the pitch count up," said Lima. "I didn't give them the opportunity to do that."

But it's not just being economical with pitches or simply getting ahead in the count. Tracy and pitching coach Jim Colborn also feel that pitching the proper sequences will make Perez more successful.

In Game 1, Perez fanned Larry Walker, swinging, in the first inning on a curveball. But when Walker came up again in the third, Perez started with that same curve and didn't keep it down and away. Walker drilled it into the right-field seats.

For Perez, the inning went south quickly. After Albert Pujols' first-pitch single, Perez threw six straight balls before giving up a two-run double by Edgar Renteria and a two-run homer by Jim Edmonds on consecutive pitches.

"I think that instead of staying with a very solid sequence of pitches to specific hitters, the second time through [the order] he went immediately to areas that he had built into the first time through the lineup, and he got burnt," said Tracy.

That's the way Game 1 ended for Perez, who left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters after Lima's shutout on Saturday night.

Catcher Brent Mayne thinks Perez has what it takes to get the job done in Game 4, despite the problems St. Louis has given him, but he also knows it will not be an easy task.

"This team can be pitched to, but the margin of error is small, smaller than a lot of teams," said Mayne. "[Perez] has to execute the game plan, more or less. I think that's what it is. He's got to be a little bit more fine, a little bit more crisp and execute.

"I think we have a pretty good idea how to pitch them, but if you don't execute, you won't win -- especially against a team like this. It's like facing Barry Bonds. If you don't make the pitches right, it's going to hurt you."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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