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October 23, 2002

Dusty Baker


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. Can you comment on the job of Kirk Rueter, particularly in the fourth through sixth innings?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, in the beginning, they got some hits off of him and didn't look too good. But we knew if Kirk got through that little period there, his sinker was going to start sinking better, threw up a couple key double plays. What can I say about Kirk other than we love having him on the mound. He keeps our defense sharp. He throws strikes. Helps himself in the field always, and he helped himself at the plate, started with that big rally with that infield hit. So, Kirk did an outstanding job. He gave us what we needed. Preserved our bullpen. We really needed that tonight.

Q. Dusty, walking Barry seems to get a little bit more and more every game, and Benito is in that pressure-packed situation. Would you consider giving him a pass, by any chance?


Q. Benito, behind Barry. Mixing up the line-up.

DUSTY BAKER: It's been working pretty good so far. Whoever you're going to put back there, it's going to be the same situation. Benito's come through big time in the second half. That's why he remains there. I don't know, if you guys can come up with any better line-up, please, tell me (laughter).

Q. Dusty, can you discuss what factors you had to weigh in the fifth inning when you let Kirk hit for himself? Did you have any flashbacks to 2000 when you let Mark Gardner hit for himself?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I usually don't have flashbacks, number one. Number two, I let Kirk hit for himself because I know Kirk can hit. Number three, my bullpen was spent. I really -- I don't know, I just decided to let Kirk hit because there was nobody out. Even if he makes an out, I got Kenny Lofton up next. I really need another inning out of Kirk big time, so we could get to Felix and Worrell and Nen. Things just worked out.

Q. Did it feel, when these guys went out ahead of you, that maybe it was happening all over again, they would jump off to a big lead and you'd be in a big hole all over again?

DUSTY BAKER: It was starting that way, but the thing about it is I know Kirk has the ability to throw ground balls, throw double plays. Number one, you can't start thinking, "Here we go again, because it's going to happen again." You have to start thinking, "This is the end of it. This is Kirk. That's all they're going to get." And that's all they got. So you're concerned, but you have to remain positive and think positive that that's all.

Q. Jumping ahead just a little bit, if there's a Game 7, do you give any thought to bringing Kirk back? Are you set on Livan?

DUSTY BAKER: I'm not set on anything. We'll just see when we get there. We got Game 5 and 6 before we get to Game 7. We have to win Game 5 before you can get to Game 7. I don't know, we'll see when we get there.

Q. Dusty, you had a swinging bunt and a bunt and a passed ball that all led to runs in this game. Sometimes you have to have little things like that happen to win games?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, you definitely have to have those things happen because it's been happening to us, jam shots and just little freaky plays. Yeah, you need those things. I mean, that's part of baseball. When those things start happening and the crowd gets into it, you start thinking good fortune, and usually good fortune follows. We hit some balls hard earlier in the night that we didn't get anything to show for it. So, like they say, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Q. Dusty, your No. 8 hitter drives in the winning run. Dave has had good playoffs, World Series. Anything surprising about that to you?

DUSTY BAKER: No, because that's why he's in that eighth spot. That eighth spot is a very, very important spot. It's an RBI spot, a leadoff spot, if he's leading off the inning, so the pitcher can bunt him over. It's a two-out spot where you hope he gets a hit or walk and gets on base so my pitcher can come to bat in that situation, I can lead off the next inning with my leadoff man. That eighth spot is a very, very important spot. Ann was talking about flashbacks of 2000. 2000, that eighth spot really hurt us, because our pitcher had to lead off like five or six times during that series. Then you have to make decisions, do you let the pitcher hit or you don't really want to take him out in that situation, especially if a guy is dealing and the line-up on the other side, I might want this guy to face this guy. That was a very, very, very big spot tonight, because if David didn't come through, I start the next inning with Robb Nen, then I have to double switch and take somebody out that I really don't want to take out. That eighth spot is very important.

Q. Dusty, what do you see that's going on with Jeff Kent at the plate?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, Jeff hit a ball hard. Runners on second and third, he hit a bullet up the middle. Just sometimes, you're going to go through an unfortunate period of time. Nothing's happening. Just sometimes you got to give them credit for making good pitches on Jeff. They're pitching him tough, which is evident. You would think, that with Barry Bonds hitting behind him on a 3-2 count, they still threw him a breaking ball and struck him out on the breaking ball. That's a respect to Jeff right there. So they're pitching Jeff tough.

Q. Dusty, will you talk about starting a series all over, best two-out-of-three with the starting pitchers starting all over again from Game 1?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, hey, I mean, that's a series. We're 2-2. We definitely wanted and needed this game tonight to start the series all over again. We certainly didn't want to go down 3-1 then have to win three in a row. So, now it's the best two-out-of-three and one-out-of-three is at our park. That was huge tonight, to get back to 2-2.

End of FastScripts.

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