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October 11, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q. Talking about your Pittsburgh connection, they've played a key role in this playoff.

DUSTY BAKER: They've been great, Randall Simon, Kenny Lofton. Ramirez, it was his night tonight. These guys have been outstanding for us. And they gave us the much needed offensive punch that we needed at the time, and seemed like they're getting better and playing better. So I'm just glad we have them.

Q. You're going to say the series is far from over, and it is, because you have to close it out. How does it feel to be on the verge of taking the Cubs to the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, you've got to close it out. That's what I was going to say. It's not over yet, big time. They won the first one, and we won the last three. You've got to go out there and just win it. They're not going to give it to you. They're not going to give up, that's for sure. You can't think about it until it's over, until you cross that finish line. That's our next step, to cross the finish line. And it feels better to be up 3-1 than down 3-1. But the main thing is we have to go out and play tomorrow.

Q. Is there any part of you that's a little bit stunned by this? Just being up 3-1 at this point?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I'm not stunned. Like I said in the last -- when we clinched it, I'm thankful and grateful to be in this situation, and I'm just glad that it's us. No, I'm not stunned, because when we get to the playoffs, everybody has a chance, and you're starting over from zero. And everybody has the same opportunity. There's no room to be stunned by anything. There's just room to keep pushing forward and keep pushing until you get it done.

Q. Given your history with Kenny Lofton, when you needed a leadoff man, was he on your shopping list?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, especially the fact that Corey Patterson went down. And Mark had been batting leadoff, but I thought he was a better second hitter, but he's been leadoff by necessity. And Kenny Lofton has been one of the best leadoff men for a long time. He was healthy, I heard he was on the trading block in Pittsburgh and we needed a leadoff man, we needed a centerfielder. He came on time, because the day we got him was the day Tom Goodwin pulled a hamstring. He got there right in the nick of time.

Q. Could you talk about maybe the most important part, outside of the win tonight, the fact that your bullpen got a lot of rest, and will be ready to go for the next few games if you need them?

DUSTY BAKER: That was big. That was big by Matt. I knew he had a good one in him. It was great to get the four-run lead by Ramirez. Matty threw an excellent game tonight. And like I said, his groin is getting better, and he's healthy. He had great command of the strike zone, and we're just glad that he went out and did what he did.

Q. Going back to Lofton for just a second. When you guys scored first inning runs in the season, with your pitching staff, are they bigger runs?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't know if

they're bigger runs. But I think 70 percent of the time the team that scores first is usually the team that wins. You score first, and right away you draw first blood. It gives your pitcher a little bit of breathing room, where he can relax right away, versus 0-0 in the 5th or 6th inning. Somebody is going to score first. It's big when your leadoff man gets on and scores, and you have the guys behind that can drive them in. You get them on base, and eventually score.

Q. For no other reason but psychologically, how important was it to get a win in the postseason by a starter other than Wood and Prior?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, there wasn't anything psychological on the team, but it's bigger psychologically for Matt Clement to do that. The last month has been tough. That was as deep as he's gone in a game in a month or more. It was big for him, big for his confidence, for possibly the next start.

Q. Closing it out tomorrow or closing it out, period, does that mean that you must go out there with a killer instinct tomorrow which means that you would have more of a short leash on your pitcher?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I'm going to do the same thing I've been doing. We have a killer instinct every day. And so, no, I won't have a short leash on the pitcher. I've got full confidence in them that they'll throw a good game tomorrow. And I don't know, the game dictates it, and scoreboard dictates it, and we'll take him as far as we think he should go, depending on the score and the inning of the ballgame.

End of FastScripts...

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