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MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Big flies rise to the forefront

MLB Notebook: Big flies rise to the forefront

MLB Notebook: Big flies rise to the forefront

After the Oakland Athletics used a pair of home runs to produce all of their runs in a Game 1 American League Division Series victory over the Royals in 1981, the second Division Series game played that day -- Tuesday, Oct. 6 -- also saw the long ball emerge as a determining factor. In the top of the seventh inning in Houston, with Nolan Ryan nursing a 1-0 lead, the Dodgers' Steve Garvey came to the plate, and in a flash, he tied the game with a solo shot. Undaunted, undeterred, Houston then one-upped its opponent with a game-ending, two-run blast from Alan Ashby in the bottom of the ninth. And just like that, baseball's round of Division Series games was off to a rollicking, homer-driven start.

It seems an appropriate shaping of story lines, considering that the latest set of Division Series contests just produced -- among other things -- a homer to lead off the first, another to turn a deficit into a lead in the eighth, one to offer a team's only scoring in a win-or-get-knocked-out scenario, another to end a no-hit bid in the eighth inning, yet another to mark a birthday, and finally, one to end a game and stave off elimination.

2013 NLDS Game 4: Braves at Dodgers

The Dodgers used three home runs -- solo shots by Carl Crawford in the first and third innings and a two-run, knockout punch by Juan Uribe in the eighth inning -- to defeat the Braves, 4-3, on Monday and clinch the series, 3-1.

Uribe became the first Dodgers player to hit a go-ahead or game-ending home run in the eighth inning or later since Kirk Gibson belted his famous blast to capture Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. A full list of the Dodgers players to do this:

• 1953 World Series, Game 3: Roy Campanella solo homer to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth
• '59 World Series, Game 4: Gil Hodges solo home run to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth
• 1981 NLCS, Game 4: Steve Garvey two-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth
• '81 NLCS, Game 5: Rick Monday solo homer to break a 1-1 tie in the ninth
• '85 NLCS, Game 6: Mike Marshall solo home run to break a 4-4 tie in the eighth
• '88 NLCS, Game 4: Gibson solo homer to break a 4-4 tie in the 12th
• '88 WS, Game 1: Gibson two-run homer to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win in the ninth
• 2013 NLDS, Game 4: Uribe two-run homer to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead in the eighth

Crawford, meanwhile, also joined nine other players to hit two home runs from the leadoff spot in a postseason game. The first to do it was Patsy Dougherty in Game 2 of the 1903 World Series, while the only other Dodgers player to accomplish the feat had been Davey Lopes in Game 1 of the 1978 Fall Classic.

2013 ALDS Game 3: Red Sox at Rays

Jose Lobaton hit a walk-off home run in the ninth to give the Rays a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox. With the win, Tampa Bay staved off elimination, forcing a Game 4.

Lobaton's game-ending home run -- the first for the Rays in the playoffs -- was the 46th walk-off homer in postseason history.

It was the eighth in the ALDS, and second in as many years. For all eight, the game-ending homer has broken a tie. The full list:

• Tony Pena, Indians: Game 1, 1995
• Jim Leyritz, Yankees: Game 2, '95
• Trot Nixon, Red Sox: Game 3, 2003
David Ortiz, Red Sox, Game 3, '04
• Manny Ramirez, Red Sox: Game 2, '07
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: Game 2, '09
Raul Ibanez, Yankees: Game 3, 2012
• Lobaton, Rays: Game 3, '13

Lobaton, who had entered the game in the top of the ninth, is the seventh catcher* to hit a game-ending home run, and the first since the Mets' Todd Pratt in Game 4 of the 1999 NLDS. In addition to the other two by catchers in an ALDS (the aforementioned Pena and Leyritz), the other catchers to hit one: Johnny Bench (1973 NLCS, Game 1); Carlton Fisk (1975 WS, Game 6) and Ashby (1981 NLDS, Game 1).

*the most for any position

• Earlier in the contest, Evan Longoria hit a game-tying, three-run home run. Longoria's homer came on his 28th birthday. The Rays third baseman joins Willie Aikens as the only players to hit a postseason homer on their birthday, with Aikens celebrating his 26th birthday with a pair of home runs in Game 1 of the 1980 World Series.

2013 NLDS Game 4: Cardinals at Pirates

With his team facing a must-win scenario, Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and settled for a win, as St. Louis topped Pittsburgh, 2-1. The clubs will face off in Game 5 on Wednesday in St. Louis.

Pitchers to win their postseason debut while allowing no more than one hit
Pitcher Game IP H R K:BB
R. Halladay 2010 NLDS, G1 9 0 0 8:1
E. Reulbach 1906 WS, G2 9 1 1 3:6
C. Passeau 1945 WS, G3 9 1 0 1:1
J. Lonborg 1967 WS, G2 9 1 0 4:1
K. Millwood 1999 NLDS, G2 9 1 1 8:0
B. Jones 2000 NLDS, G4 9 1 0 5:2
Wacha 2013 NLDS, G4 7.1 1 1 9:2

Wacha -- whose final line for the effort saw him charged with one hit and one run with nine strikeouts and two walks in 7 1/3 innings -- was making his postseason debut.

There have been 193 pitchers start and win their postseason debut. Of the 193, Wacha is one of seven to do so and allow no more than one hit. All six of the previous hurlers went the distance in their effort.

With Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal limiting the Pirates to just a home run from Pedro Alvarez, the Cardinals procured their first one-hitter in 221 postseason games. The previous low-hit mark of two had been established in Game 3 of the 1931 World Series (a complete-game effort from Burleigh Grimes) and matched in Game 1 of the 1944 Fall Classic in a loss to the Browns.

2013 ALDS Game 3: Athletics at Tigers

Oakland used three home runs and four innings of two-hit, no-run ball from its bullpen to defeat the Tigers, 6-3. With the victory, Oakland is up, 2-1, in the series.

With this game, the Athletics -- who got long balls from Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and Seth Smith -- improved to 8-2 when hitting at least three home runs in a postseason game. Overall, teams are 147-42 when hitting at least three homers.

• With 12 K's in this Game 3, Tigers pitchers have now fanned 16, 13 and 12 in the series. They are the first team to have three consecutive postseason games -- in one season -- with at least 12 strikeouts.

The 2010 Rangers pitching staff owns the top mark for strikeouts in an LDS, with 55 against the Rays.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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