Third base coach Joe Amalfitano reminded the Los Angeles Do
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Third base coach Joe Amalfitano reminded the Los Angeles Dodgers before the sixth inning began that St. Louis pitcher Mike Morgan usually tired at about that stage of the game.
Eric Karros had no idea how perfect Amalfitano’s timing was when he hit a two-run homer that proved to be the difference for the Dodgers in a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
``Joey said before that inning that we were going to get him, just because he had a tendency to tire,″ Karros said after homering for the third game in a row. ``And I think Joey was the only one who knew that.″
Cardinals manager Mike Jorgensen knew it, too. Opposing batters are hitting .207 on Morgan’s first 75 pitches of games this season and .372 afterward. Karros’ 22nd homer came on Morgan’s 76th delivery.
``Occasionally we’ve been able to see that,″ Jorgensen said. ``He had a couple of stints after he came back from his injury where we had to monitor him a little bit. He’s a guy we know we’re going to get a good solid five innings out of, but we’ve got to keep an eye on him after that.″
National League advance scouts had better keep a closer eye on Karros, who hit a game-winning homer in the 12th inning Monday at San Francisco and another tie-breaking home run Tuesday night against Cardinals reliever Jeff Parrett in the eighth inning for a 4-3 triumph.
``Is that unbelievable? He’s done it three nights in a row and we’ve won all three games,″ winning pitcher Tom Candiotti said. ``The nice thing about it is that every home run he’s hit has meant something. And that’s the sign of a champion _ when you can deliver in the clutch.″
Karros, the first player in Dodgers history to hit 20 homers in each of his first two major league seasons, is easily enjoying his best season since coming up from the minors in September 1992. His first three-game home run streak made him the first Dodger to turn the trick since Mike Piazza’s four-game streak from June 25-28 of last season.
After being overlooked for a spot on the All-Star team despite his .307 average, 14 homers and 48 RBIs at the break, Karros is putting together a second half that may have him and the Dodgers on center stage in October. They are 15-4 when he has homered, and 31-10 when he’s driven in a run.
``Winning is more on Eric’s mind than trying to show people that he was neglected for the All-Star team,″ said Candiotti (6-10). ``He’s in a great groove right now and he feels good at the plate. And when you get a couple of clutch hits that are game-winners, it really builds your confidence.″
The Dodgers’ 15th victory in 21 games pulled them within a game of NL West-leading Colorado and put them six games over .500 for the first time this year.
``When you start putting pressure on teams ahead of you, funny things happen,″ Candiotti said. ``But the main concern for our team is to keep playing good solid ball day in and day out. And as long as we keep doing that, good things will happen to this club.″
The right-hander allowed a run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out six. He left with the bases loaded and Bernard Gilkey at the plate representing the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. But Antonio Osuna struck out Gilkey on three pitches.
The second one clocked 96 mph and the third registered 98 mph _ a sharp contrast to Candiotti’s knuckler.
``After seeing the knuckleball like that, that fastball must look like it’s coming in at 106,″ Candiotti said with a grin.
Chad Fonville, who supplanted the slumping Delino DeShields in recent weeks as the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter and second baseman, continued to respond by driving in the game’s first two runs with a fifth-inning single.
``They’ve given me the chance, and I’m taking advantage of it,″ said Fonville, who languished on the Montreal Expos’ bench before the Dodgers claimed him off waivers on May 31. ``When you play every day, you’re comfortable out there and your mind is straight.″
Todd Worrell got the last three outs for his 22nd save in 23 opportunities and seventh in his last seven outings. Allen Battle singled off the right-hander for his second RBI in 73 at-bats.