Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In 3rd, Cards Find Reason to Celebrate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In 3rd, Cards Find Reason to Celebrate

Article excerpt

Ray Lankford completed his first-to-home dash in the 10th inning Saturday with the considerable help of two Philadelphia Phillies errors.

Immediately, Gregg Jefferies came bounding out of the dugout in wild celebration of the Cardinals' 5-4 victory at Busch Stadium.

While Jefferies said that clinching third in the National League Eastern Division was a big moment - "believe it or not" - he was more excited at winning his managerial debut.

Cardinals manager Joe Torre routinely allows his players to run the club, at least to a degree, late in the season if there is no bearing on pennant contention.

Jefferies wasn't allowed to make out the lineup but was permitted to call the plays and flash the signs, once assistant Todd Zeile reminded him what they were. Jefferies wrote the signs on a baseball. Tom Pagnozzi served as "defensive coordinator," whatever that meant.

Jefferies managed until Torre decided to use him as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and left him in the game.

"He was nervous," Torre said. "He was making me nervous and he made everybody around him nervous. Zeile was his assistant and he walked away four times.

"I had to get him out of the dugout. I told him I didn't want to use him as a hitter as badly as I wanted to get him out from behind the desk."

Jefferies said, "It was nerve-racking. I'd rather be playing than managing. This is very stressful. I'd rather be out there kind of trying to control the action instead of sitting back. I'd get ulcers.

"But I don't care if I went in when the game was tied and Joe took over. That's my win."

Among the most significant occurrences Saturday was second baseman Geronimo Pena hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning, then striking out with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. That at-bat was marked by his swinging at a ball well out of the strike zone on the first pitch after Bobby Thigpen had walked the bases loaded.

This was a microcosm. It is Pena's inconsistency, not only at bat but in the field, that befuddles Torre. Coupled with Luis Alicea's occasional fielding mishaps and his scratching himself from the lineup a couple of times because of injuries, Torre is uncertain what to do about second base next season. …

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