Originally created 10/06/04

Postseason is off and flying

ST. LOUIS - Larry Walker is back in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, and he's making the most of his second shot.

In the Cardinals' playoff opener, the three-time batting champion led the hit parade. Walker homered twice, and St. Louis tied a postseason record by hitting five home runs, overwhelming Odalis Perez and the Los Angeles Dodgers in an 8-3 blowout Tuesday.

"It was a lot of fun out there today to see the packed house and everybody in red," Walker said. "It was a good feeling."

Walker, acquired in August from the Colorado Rockies, made his only other postseason appearance in 1995, batting .214 for Colorado in a first-round loss to Atlanta.

Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Mike Matheny, who've been part of three postseason teams in four years with St. Louis, also connected.

Add in a strong six-inning performance from Woody Williams and the Cardinals looked every bit as dominating as they did in leading the majors with 105 wins and leading the National League in runs and batting average.

The game was a slugfest, exactly what Dodgers manager Jim Tracy had hoped to avoid.

The Dodgers, who set a franchise record with 53 come-from-behind victories, fell so far behind they couldn't recover. A five-run third, all of the runs scoring with two outs, was the key.

"Two runs is nice, but getting five runs is just unbelievable," Williams said. "Especially in a game of this magnitude."

Los Angeles still hasn't won a postseason game since it beat the Oakland Athletics managed by Tony La Russa in the 1988 World Series.

The Dodgers were swept in the first round by Atlanta in 1996 and Cincinnati in 1995.

St. Louis will start Jason Marquis against Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers on Thursday night at Busch Stadium.


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