Torre mum on possible Game 4 starter

Torre mum on possible Game 4 starter

CHICAGO -- The Dodgers' plan all along has been to stick with three starting pitchers for the National League Division Series, so they told Derek Lowe to be ready to pitch on three days' rest for a possible Game 4 and, with Lowe's history of pitching the Red Sox to a World Series in 2004 on short rest, Lowe was all for it.

He gave them no reason to think otherwise with six solid innings in a Game 1 win Wednesday night, using 94 pitches for six innings and saying on Thursday that he feels just fine for his next assignment, although manager Joe Torre would not even go to when and where that might be.

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"We don't know if there'll be a Game 4. I hope there isn't, because that means there's only one result [a Dodgers sweep]," he said. "We have options, obviously. Derek felt great today. He's aware and on board with it."

In fact, about the only way that scenario would change is if Chad Billingsley, who has a tendency to get a little hyper on the mound, really had a problem in Thursday night's Game 2. In that case, there would be consideration to hold Lowe back for a Game 5, the thinking being that Billingsley might not be the best choice in a raucous Wrigley Field with the season on the line if he hadn't handled it well in Game 2.

Greg Maddux would likely get the extra start, as Torre said he prefers to keep rookie Clayton Kershaw as a second lefty in the bullpen -- Joe Beimel the other -- with Hong-Chih Kuo out with a sore left triceps.

Kuo made 40 throws on flat ground in Los Angeles on Thursday and could throw a bullpen session over the weekend as the club remains hopeful he will be available for the NL Championship Series, should the Dodgers get there.

Without Kuo, Torre has juggled his bullpen. Cory Wade continues his unexpected rookie season, pitching a solid seventh inning in Game 1. Jonathon Broxton did the same in the eighth, and Torre had Takashi Saito warmed up and ready for the ninth with a four-run lead, but when the Dodgers tacked on a run for a five-run margin, Torre went to the 42-year-old Maddux, who closed it out.

Nice to have a future Hall of Famer around to mop up.

"It's nice to put him out there and see how quick he was to warm up," Torre said of Maddux, who was making his third postseason relief appearance. "He changes speed and throws strikes and the last thing he'll do is walk people."

Torre said he didn't see any reason to change a winning lineup, and that included bringing Rafael Furcal back to start at shortstop and bat leadoff for Game 2, even though Game 1 was his first nine-inning workload in five months.

"I checked with him last night and he was fine and he gave me thumbs up today," Torre said. "I took Blake [DeWitt at second base] out for defense and never even thought about Furcal. But he was fine at the plate, too."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.