10/15/2002 00:54 am ET
Lofton fills the hero role
Giants leadoff batter provides finale to NLCS clincher
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- A champagne-drenched Kenny Lofton couldn't control his emotions.
"We're going to the World Series!" he yelled in the San Francisco clubhouse minutes after delivering the game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning that lifted the Giants to a 2-1 victory over St. Louis for the National League pennant Monday night at Pacific Bell Park. "We
weren't supposed to beat the Braves, we weren't supposed to beat the Cardinals, but who's going to the World Series? We are!"
The Giants, thanks to Lofton's two-out single off Steve Kline, are going to Anaheim to meet the Angels in an
all-California World Series.
Lofton's third hit of the game gave the Giants the NL Championship Series four games to one, sending the Giants to their first Fall
Classic since 1989.
David Bell, a former Cardinal, started the two-out rally with a single to left-center field off St. Louis starter Matt Morris. Another former Cardinal, Shawon Dunston, followed with a base hit to center, prompting Cardinal manager Tony La Russa to bring in Kline to face
the left-handed hitting Lofton.
"[Giants reliever] Tim Worrell told me, 'It's up to you Kenny, get us that hit,'" Lofton said. "I figured [Kline] would try to get ahead with that first pitch so I was looking for a strike, and I got one over the plate that I was able to get around on."
Bell raced home with the winning run to give the Giants the series as Lofton was mobbed by his teammates.
"This is something every kid dreams about growing up," Lofton said. "To win a game like this with a hit in the bottom of the ninth, it doesn't get any sweeter than that."
San Francisco manager Dusty Baker had considered sending up a pinch-hitter for Lofton but instead let him face the lefty.
"I said, 'No, don't go crazy, let Kenny win this game,'" Baker said. "It was very appropriate, at the end, for Kenny Lofton to win this
"My son, Daaren, told me, 'We're going to win this game. Kenny Lofton needs just one more hit and we can win this game.' And that's what happened."
It was especially sweet for Lofton since a bit of revenge was included in the blow.
Lofton, who had been involved in a bench-clearing incident after Mike Crudale brushed him back during Game 1, had gone
0-for-16 since then until he singled in the sixth inning. He added a base hit in the eighth and finished the evening 3-for-4.
Lofton said he didn't say anything or make any gestures to the Cardinals as he crossed first base.
"Don't mean nothing now," Lofton said. "That doesn't matter at all now. We're going to the World Series, that's what matters."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. This article was not sujbect to approval by Major League Baseball.