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Morris struggles at bad time
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League Championship Series
10/10/2002 01:59 am ET 
Morris struggles at bad time
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com

Matt Morris ponders the seven runs he surrendered in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. (David J. Phillip/AP)
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Morris said he knew from the very beginning that he might be in for his worst night of the year.

"When you start by walking [Kenny] Lofton, it's not something you want to do," Morris said. "Then you try to be careful with their other hitters. I don't know if it was nerves or [Barry] Bonds or what.

"I don't think anything was on tonight. They had an explosion of hits [in the second], six in a row, I think. Something pathetic like that. The bottom line is, I put our team in a bad hole."

Morris gave up seven runs on 10 hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. He had given up seven runs only once during the regular season (May 18 vs. the Reds) and that was in 5 2/3 innings.

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He said the three walks were what hurt him in the first inning when he gave up one run. But he said it was his location that failed him in the four-run second.

"My ball was just up," Morris said. "Every pitch was up in the zone, except that pitch to [Rich] Aurilia in the second [for an RBI single]. That was a good pitch but that was the only one."

Manager Tony La Russa agreed that Morris was not sharp.

"His stuff was good, he just made a lot of location mistakes," La Russa said. "And they are a good club and made him pay."

Morris, who was 17-9 this season with a 3.42 ERA, had given up only one run in 16 innings over two starts against the Giants.

But, he said, the playoffs are different.

    Matt Morris   /   P
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Cardinals site

"This game means everything," Morris said. "It's unfortunate to waste an opportunity like that, especially with all the runs we scored. If I put up a halfway decent game, we win that. That's what makes it tough."

Morris said he thought about walking Bonds in the second before Bonds tripled in two runs with two out.

"Walking him is always a consideration," Morris said. "I hung him a curve and that's the ball he should hit. I was throwing the ball all around, trying to get him to fish for something. But he hasn't been doing that all year."

Catcher Mike Matheny said Morris may have had too much adrenaline going.

    Mike Matheny   /   C
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Cardinals site

"He was really fired up," Matheny said. "He usually gets a good grip on the ball and gets on top of it. But everything was up in the zone tonight. I'm sure he'll be able to get back on top of it next time and he'll be just fine."

The Cardinals most definitely will rely on Morris to rebound later in the NLCS. He was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in the NLDS and beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks in Game 1, 12-2. Wednesday night was his first start in the NLCS. He worked in relief in 2000 and came out of the bullpen twice against the Mets.

But since returning to the rotation, he has won 39 games the last two seasons. His 2.45 ERA in night games was the third-best in the NL this year.

Morris was asked if he would change his approach the next time out against the Giants.

"I don't know, I never got to my approach tonight," Morris said.

Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at paul.smith@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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