10/14/2002 01:50 am ET
White touched up in long outing
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rick White had never stayed in a game so long since joining the Cardinals in August.
Was it too long?
After he threw 2 1/3 innings Sunday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against San Francisco, Cards manager Tony La Russa left him in to intentionally walk Barry Bonds in the eighth inning.
Then La Russa left him in to face Benito Santiago, who blasted a two-run homer to eventually give the Giants a 4-3 victory and a 3-1 series lead.
The longest White had gone with the Cards was two innings. He did it twice, in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee on Sept. 9 and in a 3-2 win over Houston on Sept. 13.
La Russa had options had he been willing to challenge Bonds. Left-hander Steve Kline was a possibility even though he faced four batters on Saturday. Kline wound up replacing White after Santiago's homer. Jeff Fassero was the other left-handed option.
But La Russa said he had confidence in White, who went 3-1 and allowed just two earned runs in 22 regular-season innings after joining the Cardinals, and had allowed just an unearned run in 3 2/3 postseason innings.
"He's been really good for us," La Russa said. "He was so fresh, came off one hitter [faced] on Saturday, had a couple of days off coming in. ... In a game like today, he was fresh enough to go that far."
It all extends from the fact teams are loath to be beaten by the homer-smashing Bonds.
Serves them right, Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia said.
"You know what the funny thing about this game is?" Aurilia said. "They're going to keep doing that until he retires, no matter who's hitting behind him. He could have Babe Ruth hitting behind him, Hank Aaron, and they're still going to do it right now.
"Because that's the goal, not let Barry Bonds beat you. You know what? In my opinion, there's other ways that he'll beat you. Tonight, he was the go-ahead run, and brought Benito to the plate."
Giants reliever Tim Worrell, who picked up two key outs for the victory, said the victim was White, who pitched better than his fate (two hits, three strikeouts).
"I thought Rick White threw a hell of a game," Worrell said. "It's tough for a middle-relief guy to go out there in that situation and keep doing it, and I thought he did a great job. I'm glad [he allowed the homer], obviously. But he's a pitch away from allowing La Russa to play every matchup he wants."
White's outing on Sunday wasn't totally uncharted territory this season.
His longest stint of the season was three innings, while pitching for the Colorado Rockies in a 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 5. The Rockies released White in early August. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers, and he made his St. Louis debut Aug. 24.
White said he was most distressed about a hit that occurred long before his innings had become a factor. He allowed a game-tying double to J.T. Snow in the sixth "and ruined a great performance that [Cards starter] Andy [Benes] gave."
Santiago's homer gave the Giants a 4-2 lead.
"I thought I could get Benito out doing what I was doing, but I gave him a good pitch to hit and he did what he was supposed to," White said.
Cardinal fans are left to wonder if White was supposed to be there throwing that pitch.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.