HOUSTON -- Dodgers outfielder Scott Podsednik returned to his native Texas and the place where he helped the White Sox win the 2005 World Series.

Podsednik played a major role in the White Sox sweep of the Astros, hitting .286 with two triples and the winning home run in Game 2. Podsednik scored nine runs and stole six bases in the Series.

"Anytime I go back to Chicago or Houston, you can't help think about the '05 season," he said. "That's what we all play for, try to make it to the dance. Try to win that ring. To get that opportunity, in just my third year in the league, was pretty special. There are a lot of guys who play the game a long time that never get that opportunity to make it to a World Series.

"I remember all four games. It was a good Series. [The Astros] were in all four games. One hit here or there could have changed the whole course of the Series."

That was the only season Podsednik, who played two years in Seattle, two in Milwaukee and one in Colorado and this season with Kansas City, made the playoffs.

"It makes you realize you want more of it," Podsednik said of winning in '05. "You get a taste of it, and you want to get back. There's nothing like playing in the postseason. It's a lot different from the regular season. I consider myself lucky to experience that."

Torre not used to being idle come Octoberfest

HOUSTON -- More than 15 years have come and gone since Dodgers manager Joe Torre had some free time in early October.

The Dodgers have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, slipping to three games under .500 with Thursday night's 3-2 loss to the Astros, their sixth defeat in a row.

"We're not in the race," Torre said. "Of course, we're not eliminated. But we're running out of games. We have not been able to put anything together to make us feel like we're in a race.

"It's been a long time since I've had a September that wasn't significant. I was tracking it the other day and it was 1993 [when he finished third managing St. Louis with an 87-75 record]. Because '94 was the strike year and in '95 I got fired in June."

Torre understood that for much of his managing career, he was in the right place at the right time.

"I've been very lucky to have been connected with the Yankees and L.A.," he said. "You look up, somebody loses and you're a step closer. That doesn't work for us anymore. We've got to win, and that's something we haven't been able to do. We spun our wheels. We haven't gotten any traction."

What will Torre do without any playoff games to manage?

"My wife probably has plans that don't include me," he joked.

Torre spent some time late Thursday afternoon watching the Reds play the Rockies, two teams fighting for the playoffs.

"You're not necessarily rooting for somebody, but you know what the feeling is like [being in the hunt]," he said. "[Now] you're not invited to the party. We haven't been good enough. It's as simple as that."

Dodgers ready for renewed rivalry

HOUSTON -- The Dodgers and Astros felt almost like strangers when they renewed acquaintances on Thursday to open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The teams haven't played since the Dodgers won two games from Houston in May at Los Angeles. The Dodgers hadn't played in Houston since April 2009.

"It's like Interleague [Play]," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of facing the Astros. "It's like playing an American League team. You don't see them for a long, long time. It's just weird, especially coming in and playing in September."

Houston unloaded two of its three biggest starts, right-hander Roy Oswalt and first baseman Lance Berkman, since the last time it faced the Dodgers.

"They have a whole new cast of characters since the last time we saw them, as we do for them," Torre said. "They're playing very well. [Hunter] Pence looks like he's coming into his own, and Carlos [Lee] keeps hitting, like he does."

Weary LA longs for regular schedule

HOUSTON -- Baseball can be a tougher game than it appears when you consider the Dodgers, after playing Wednesday night in San Diego, did not arrive in Houston until 2:30 PT in the morning and didn't get to their hotel until 4.

"That's part of baseball," said Dodgers outfielder Scott Podsednik. "When you play all over the country, you can't make a 162-game schedule peachy. You try to block it out. September's always a tough month. Legs are aching, barking. You're tired.

"We're all professionals. We signed up for 162 games. That's what we do for a living. That's what they pay us a lot of money for -- to go out there and bring what you have to the park each day. Just because we're out of [the race] doesn't mean we're not going to go out and play hard."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre wasn't complaining. "The Astros were just a couple of hours ahead of us," he said.

The Astros played a night game on Wednesday in Chicago and didn't get home until 2:30 a.m. CT.

"You've got no choice," said Dodgers infielder Jamey Carroll. "Nobody feels sorry for you. The other team doesn't care. This time of year you can go to sleep, regardless of the situation. Everybody's pretty beat down. Once the game starts, you forget what the whole situation is and go out there and compete."

Casey Blake did not start Thursday's game, but entered in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter.

"It helps anytime you get some rest," Blake said. "You want to be in there and play. But it's been a long season.

"It was a bad schedule, by whoever makes the schedule. There's been several of those this year, but they can't accommodate everybody. There's no reason we shouldn't have been playing a day game in San Diego our last day."

When there isn't much to play for, baseball can become a tough job.

"It makes it a lot harder," Blake said. "You want to do well because we're all competitors. There's no reason to show up at the park not ready to compete. Hopefully, you can show some of these young guys how to play the game. It's a very rewarding part of the game."