10/14/2002 10:15 pm ET
Morris hits Lofton; Lofton hits back
Cards throw inside to Giants outfielder again
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris interrupted the perfect game he had going Monday night for a special message -- one he delivered just above the right hip of San Francisco's Kenny Lofton to open the fourth inning.
But Lofton answered Morris with singles in his next two at-bats, then sent the message that really mattered -- a ninth-inning single off reliever Steve Kline in the ninth inning that drove in the winning run as the Giants earned a World Series berth with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
"I was like, wow, I got hit in the ribs a little bit but you've got to go out there and keep battling," Lofton said. "I got a pretty good welt, but oh well. It don't hurt right now."
Lofton was accused of hamming it up too much after a homer off Morris during Game 1. Cardinals reliever Mike Crudale delivered the message that night with a high, inside pitch that didn't hit him but still caused the benches to clear in anger.
But after not allowing a baserunner through three innings of Monday night's Game 5, Morris drilled Lofton with his first pitch of the fourth inning.
Lofton's reaction to the Morris pitch was a little different this time. After the Crudale pitch, he angrily shouted toward the pitcher's mound and at catcher Mike Matheny before players rushed onto the field. But Monday, he simply turned briefly to home plate umpire Tim Welke, then walked slowly to first base.
To that point, Lofton was 0-for-18 since the Game 1 incident. But Lofton led off the bottom of the sixth of the still-scoreless game with a single -- the second hit off Morris. Lofton singled again with one down in the eighth, then added the game winner off Kline after David Bell and Shawon Dunston knocked two-out singles off Morris in the ninth.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.