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NLCS Notebook

Dodgers Drop Saito, Add Kuo in Bullpen

Fireworks explode over Citizens Bank Park before the start of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Dodgers in Philadelphia.
Fireworks explode over Citizens Bank Park before the start of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Dodgers in Philadelphia. (By Julie Jacobson -- Associated Press)

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By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 10, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 9 -- The Los Angeles Dodgers cleared up their bullpen situation on Thursday, adding left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo to the roster in place of one-time closer Takashi Saito before the start of the National League Championship Series.

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Kuo returned to the roster after missing the division series with elbow problems while Saito was left off after laboring in his only playoff appearance.

Right-hander Jonathan Broxton, who picked up the save in the Dodgers' clinching victory against the Chicago Cubs and filled in during Saito's extended absence, will again take on the closer's role.

"It was difficult, but we just sense he was fighting to be that guy again," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said of Saito, who has seen sporadic action since returning from two months on the disabled list with a right elbow strain.

Torre made the decision after Saito struggled with his location during a bullpen session, though he didn't rule out a potential return if the Dodgers make the World Series.

Kuo's addition affords the Dodgers a dominant left-hander out of the bullpen and an important late-game option for Torre against a Philadelphia lineup stacked with left-handed power.

Kuo's 1.69 ERA as a reliever was the best in the National League, and he was particularly tough on lefties, who managed just a .202 average against him this season.

But Kuo hasn't pitched since Sept. 14 with a sore left triceps and Torre said he would rather ease the pitcher in than throw him directly into a pressure situation. If the situation calls for it, however, Torre said he might reconsider.

"I think the game is going to dictate what I do," Torre said. "And we'll see where we are, especially if you look up there and the ninth inning starts with two left-handers. It certainly would be tempting."

Myers Thrives at Home

Despite all the talk of Citizens Bank Park and its heavy bias toward hitters, Phillies Game 2 starter Brett Myers has spent the season making the place feel cozy.

Myers has pitched much better at home (7-5, 3.01 ERA) than on the road (3-8, 6.21 ERA). Pitching at home against the Brewers in the division series, Myers allowed two runs in the first inning before denying Milwaukee another run over the next six frames.

Myers attributed the disparity in his home-road splits to crowd support.

"I like pitching in front of our fans," Myers said. "It's fun when they're behind you and stuff. And it's just more comfortable when you're at home."

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