10/13/2002 7:37 pm ET
Lofton slumping after fracas
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Has San Francisco Giants leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton been intimidated by the St. Louis Cardinals, who threw high and inside to him and precipitated a bench-clearing incident during Game 1 of the National League Championship Series?
The statistics suggest so.
Lofton walked, singled and homered against Matt Morris in his first three plate appearances of the series, and angered the Cardinals so much by admiring the flight of his homer and trotting the bases slowly that pitcher Mike Crudale buzzed him his next time up.
Starting with that at-bat, which ended with a weak fly ball, Lofton is 0-for-13 with two strikeouts and a walk.
But before Sunday's Game 4 at Pacific Bell Park, with San Francisco holding a 2-1 series lead, Giants manager Dusty Baker defended Lofton and predicted success.
"It's just circumstances actually," Baker said. "They have been pitching him tough. I don't' think that incident has anything to do with it at all.
"I've got a feeling today Kenny Lofton is going to have a big, big day today. It's hard to keep a big man down for too long, and he's been down for a couple of games now."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.