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Cards tie postseason homer mark10/05/2004 2:45 PM ET
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Two hours before the start of Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said of his Cardinals opponents: "We don't want to get in a slugfest with them."
They did, and the rest was history.
St. Louis got Major League Baseball's 2004 postseason started in a spectacular way, tying the postseason record of five home runs in a single game during an 8-3 victory. Larry Walker led the way with two homers in his first playoff game since 1995, and the Cards had one each from Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Mike Matheny.
There are some ironies in this record as well. The first time five homers were hit in a postseason game was right here in St. Louis, when the 1928 Yankees beat the Cardinals in the decisive fourth game of the World Series at Sportsman's Park. Babe Ruth hit three out that day, Lou Gehrig added one and so did Cedric Durst. The only other time it was done in World Series play was in Game 3 of 1989, when Oakland had two homers from Dave Henderson and one each from Tony Phillips, Jose Canseco and Carney Lansford.
Yes, those were the same bashing A's who were managed by current Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. He's seen it all before.
Five homers were also knocked out by the Cubs in a 1984 NL Championship Series game against San Diego.
Curtain calls were the order of the day this time, with one for every Cardinals homer as requested by a positively electric Busch crowd. The record for the most homers in any Division Series game had been four, accomplished by seven American League clubs, most recently Oakland in 2002. It marked the first time that a Cardinals club had homered more than three times in a playoff game, having done so once in the 2000 NLDS against Atlanta and twice in the 2002 NLCS against San Francisco.
"You know that with the lineup they have, the capability is there of hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Tracy said later. "That's not really a discouraging thing when you consider that, you know, there were a couple of solo home runs that were hit. The key to the game is the fact that we were unable to put an inning down when we had two out and nobody on base, but they hit home runs."
Tracy was referring to the "big inning," the third, in which Walker led off with a 404-foot rocket to right, ending a personal blight (1-for-15 plus a strikeout in the first inning) against Dodgers starter Odalis Perez. That made it 2-0, because Pujols had opened the scoring with a first-inning homer to dead center. The third homer of the day was Edmonds' yank to right-center, which immediately followed a two-run double by Edgar Renteria. All of a sudden it was 6-0.
Matheny's homer led off the fifth inning against Elmer Dessens, and Walker completed the assault with another solo shot to start the seventh.
"It is kind of neat," Walker said of the five curtain calls. "I never had one in my career before I came to St. Louis, so it's kind of like old hat here. What do we have, five curtain calls today? The fans -- I think the word's gotten around. Fans love it, and the players don't have any problem. I wish you could experience it one time and see what it's like. It is quite amazing to tip your hat and [hear] everybody cheer a little bit higher decibel [level] when you step on that top step."
Throw in a solo homer by the Dodgers' Tom Wilson off Jason Isringhausen in the ninth, and Tuesday's combined total of six homers also tied a Division Series record accomplished four times, and established an NLDS record (previously five, accomplished three times).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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