Sanders isn't missing opportunity to play

Entering game 0-for-13, he gets his 1st hit of series

Baseball

NLCS notebook

October 14, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker is a patient man. How else could he explain the presence of slumping right fielder Reggie Sanders in his lineup for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Sanders left eight men on base in Saturday's 5-4 loss at Pacific Bell Park, and that wasn't the half of it.

The veteran slugger, who was signed by the Giants last winter to flesh out the heart of their batting order, entered last night hitless in 13 at-bats in the NLCS. Then he went 1-for-3, and now has five hits and one RBI in 34 postseason at-bats this year.

Nevertheless, he was back in there yesterday, though Baker dropped him one slot in the batting order against right-hander Andy Benes. Now, it becomes a matter of how many more chances he'll get. The manager was noncommittal on Sanders' status for Game 5 today.

"I'll let you know tomorrow," he said.

Sanders acknowledged after Saturday's game that he has been pressing and said he would make an effort to relax and be more selective.

"I think I'm being a little too aggressive," he said.

Morris tries to regroup

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris will get a chance to redeem himself tonight in his second start of the series. He struggled badly in Game 1, giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, but he said yesterday that he doesn't plan to do anything differently.

The Giants took advantage to score a 9-6 victory behind Kirk Rueter, who also will take the mound today in the final game in San Francisco. The poor performance by the usually dependable Morris left room to wonder if he was just too pumped up for the game, but he would not apologize for being excited.

"Well, I hope I'm excited tomorrow, too," Morris said. "I'm sure I will be."

New Cardinals mascot

Five-year-old Kannon Kile was the Cardinals' batboy for the second day in a row. The son of late Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile got a standing ovation from Giants fans when he was introduced before Game 3, and was viewed as something of a good-luck charm by the team.

"Before the game, he was working with Tino [Martinez] and [Jim] Edmonds on their swings," Morris said, "so that helped."

Lofton fallout

Morris sidestepped questions about the controversy involving Giants leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton in Game 1. Lofton got upset at an inside pitch from reliever Mike Crudale - a pitch some felt was retaliation for Lofton's reaction to the home run he hit off Morris earlier in the game.

"I didn't even see his trot," Morris said. "I was turned around looking at the ball to see if it was going to get out. I think the home run irritated me, whether it was him or anybody else. You don't want to give up a home run. He put a good swing on a ball that was left out over the plate. Playoff time, guys don't miss them."

Aurilia record

Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia already has set the major-league record for RBIs in a postseason by a shortstop. He entered yesterday's game with 12 - one more than previous record-holders Bucky Dent (1978) and Nomar Garciaparra (1998).

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