10/06/05 4:00 PM ET
Notes: Lawrence could be ace in hole
Padres in process of deciding possible Game 5 starter
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Lawrence was responding to a question about the popular notion that the Padres can't win without Peavy, their ace."If somebody says we have one [starting] pitcher, they haven't been paying attention," Lawrence said. "I've had a horrible year, but I can go out and beat anybody." Lowdown from Loretta: Like Lawrence, second baseman Mark Loretta hasn't had the kind of season he'd anticipated, following a banner 2004 in which he made the National League All-Star team while producing career highs in average (.335), homers (16), RBIs (76) and runs scored (108). A torn ligament in his left thumb suffered in mid-May derailed Loretta, and he's just now feeling whole and totally confident again after batting .280 with three homers, 38 RBIs and 54 runs scored in 105 games. "It's been kind of a rocky year for me," he said. "I didn't have a great start, and then I had the injury and missed [almost] 60 games. There have been three or four days or a week where I've felt pretty good overall, and then had a little bit of a lapse with the thumb and a little bit of a wrist issue on my right hand. "I haven't really had the consistent good feel for more than, I'd say, a week at a time since I've been back." Loretta finished strong the final week of the season in the leadoff spot with Dave Roberts, culminating in a three-hit night as the Padres clinched against the Giants at PETCO Park. Batting third in Game 1 with Roberts back, Loretta had an RBI single during the three-run ninth and went 1-for-5. He worked starter Chris Carpenter for 25 pitches his first three at-bats, including one of the game's turning points in the third inning. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Roberts bolted for third and Ryan Klesko went for second on a full count, and Loretta hit a bullet right at Abraham Nunez, who was moving toward the bag to cover. Positioned normally off the bag, Nunez would have had difficulty reaching the ball, and it could have been a two-run double to give the Padres a 2-1 lead. "That's baseball," Loretta said. "They were able to capitalize on their good fortune. That's what good teams do." With Eric Young leading off Game 2 against lefty Mark Mulder, Loretta was in the No. 2 hole. "Second is probably my most natural spot to hit in the order," Loretta said, "[to] utilize making contact, possibly hit and run, that type of thing." Young at heart: His first postseason start since 1995, when he played second base and was the catalyst of a Rockies outfit that gave the Braves fits in the NLDS, had Young feeling 20 years younger than the 38 on his birth certificate. "This is what it's all about -- baseball in the fall," he said, preparing to face a pitcher (Mulder) he's had success against in the past, batting .389 (7-for-18) against the former Oakland star with three doubles and three walks. "Every pitch means something. The energy level is so high, it makes you want to get out there and make good things happen. "[The Cardinals are] good, but if we play the game the way we can, we can compete with anybody." A .444 postseason hitter coming into Game 2, Young homered and drove in two runs in Game 1 after entering as a pinch-hitter for Roberts against southpaw Randy Flores in the eighth inning. It was the Padres' second pinch-hit homer in their postseason history. Jim Leyritz unloaded in Game 2 of the 1998 NLDS. Young hit a two-run homer against the Braves' John Smoltz in Game 3 of the '95 NLDS on his way to batting .438 (7-for-16) in the four-game series claimed by eventual World Series champion Atlanta. On deck: Williams (9-12, 4.85 ERA) faces fellow right-hander Matt Morris (14-10, 4.11) in Game 3 on Saturday night at 8 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.