The Setting: The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers met in the first round of the 2004 National League playoffs. With the Dodgers down 2-0 and facing elimination, the scene shifted to Dodger Stadium on Saturday, October 9, 2004.
The Background: The Cardinals came in with the best record in baseball at 105-57, the NL Central champs. The Dodgers held off the San Francisco Giants to win the NL West with a 93-69 record. In the first 2 games of the series, the Cardinals ran away with consecutive scores of 8-3 to place the Dodgers in an immediate hole. Woody Williams and Jason Marquis got the wins over Odalis Perez and Jeff Weaver, respectively. With a crowd of 55,992, the Dodgers had one last chance to salvage the series.
The Game: Jose Lima took the mound, and Tony Womack lead off the game with a single to right. Already, things were not looking up for LA. However, Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, and Scott Rolen all could not reach base, and damage was avoided. A double play ball by Reggie Sanders ended the 2nd, and 3 straight outs took care of the Cards in order after 3. Going into the bottom of the 3rd, it was 0-0.
In the bottom of the frame, the Dodgers struck first, thanks to an 2-run double by Steve Finley, scoring Alex Cora and Brett Mayne. The Cards had their meat due up in the 4th of Walker, Pujols, and Rolen, but all 3 of them flied out. The bottom of the 4th saw a solo shot by Shawn Green, and the Dodgers were up 3-0.
The Cards put 2 runners on base in the 5th inning with singles by Jim Edmonds and Mark Matheny. With 2 down and the Dodgers up 3-0, Tony LaRussa chose not to pinch-hit starting pitcher Matt Morris, and he hit into a forceout at 3rd base. The Dodgers and Cards traded scoreless innings, and it was still 3-0 going into the bottom of the 6th.
Shawn Green, putting together his best postseason game, launched another homer to lift the score to 4-0. Going into the bottom of the 9th, the only other Cardinal hit was a single by Womack. With Eric Gagne ready to go from the bullpen, Jim Tracy let Lima finish what he started, even with Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds due up.
Pujols lead off with a fly-out to right field for 1 down. Rolen then lifted a fly to center that was grabbed for 2 down. The last out of the game came on a pop-up in foul territory to 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre to end the game. Dodgers 4 - Cardinals 0.
The Aftermath: Lima won the first postseason game for LA since Game 5 of the 1988 World Series over Oakland. Dodger fans had waiting a long, long time for a game like this. The Dodgers had new life, and would send Odalis Perez to the mound for Game 4 Sunday night vs. Jeff Suppan.
Well, Perez had his 2nd consecutive lousy postseason outing, and did not make it out of the 3rd. The pivitol moment came in the 4th with the game tied at 2. The lefty Wilson Alverez was on the mound facing Pujols with 2 runners on. With 2 down, Tracy decided to stick with the lefty. Pujols then launched a 3-run shot to left, giving the Cards a 5-2 lead. Cora struck out to end the game with the Cards winning 6-2, taking the series 3 games to 1.
Lima would never pitch again with the Dodgers, as his career dwindled downward after this game. He signed with the Kansas City Royals for the 2005 season, where he was flat out awful. He ended up 5-16 with an enormous 6.99 ERA.
Oh, but he did have one good start in all of that. Who did he face? You guessed it......... the Dodgers. In fact, it was his first win of the season! He went 8 innings and gave up 1 run for a 3-1 victory. That was really his last good start in the majors as he was again atrocious with the Mets for 3 starts in 2006.