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A day for the ages for Green
05/23/2002 6:49 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- The Dodgers have been waiting all season for Shawn Green to go off, but not like this, not all in one day.

The hope was that Green could carry the offense without Gary Sheffield, and for the first quarter of the season, he couldn't. He slumped. He was booed at home. Saturday, he was benched by the manager.

Thursday, the same guy pulled off the stuff of legends. The guy who didn't hit a home run in almost four weeks became the 14th player in Major League history to hit four home runs in one game. He set a Major League single-game record with 19 total bases. He went 6-for-6 with a double and single against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers. He drove in seven runs, scored six.

Green set franchise single-game records for most home runs, most runs scored and most total bases. He tied club records with five extra-base hits and six total hits. One homer was a three-run shot, three were solos, the last one part of back-to-back-to-back blasts in the ninth inning.

When Green sat out Saturday's game against Montreal, his average down to .230, his name on the lineup card was listed with other Dodger reserves -- Dave Hansen, Alex Cora, Jeff Reboulet. Today his name is right there with Lou Gehrig and Willie Mays.

As the team headed for the weekend showdown in Arizona, it did so with hard proof of what could happen if the Green that hit 49 home runs last year is back.

His four home runs were only half the team's total, the eight homers in one game another franchise single-game record. Joining Green in the home-run trot were Brian Jordan, Hiram Bocachica, Adrian Beltre and Dave Hansen. Marquis Grissom had a ninth home run pulled back into the park by Milwaukee left fielder Geoff Jenkins.

"See what Greenie can do when he's in a zone?" said Jordan, who was on the St. Louis disabled list when Mark Whiten hit four home runs in a 1993 game in Cincinnati. "This is what it's all about, getting all of us clicking at the same time. Greenie's finally relaxing, I'm finally relaxing. This was exciting, but it was exciting enough to have an 8-1 lead in the second inning. It was a breath of fresh air."

The 16-3 whacking with a 19-hit attack followed a 1-0 win, examples of just how unpredictable this Dodger offense is.

The beneficiary of the windfall was Kazuhisa Ishii, who needed it. The lefty raised his record to 7-1 but struggled pitching with a lingering strained hip flexor. He lasted only 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six walks but only two earned runs.

But that was a lot better than the Brewer pitchers. Granted, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson were not on the mound Thursday, but will be Friday and Sunday. Coming off this barrage, the Dodger offense is as ready as it ever will be.

"Obviously, when Greenie swings like he did today, he presents a threat that we haven't had this year," said Eric Karros. "He's the only guy on the team capable of that. The funny thing is, four days ago everybody's ready to write him off. He was booed in L.A. That's why you can't overreact to one game or one series. People who don't know the game sometimes have a tendency to do that."

Karros batted cleanup in the game as Paul Lo Duca was rested.

"All you guys who've been writing about no protection for Greenie, just remember who was protecting him today," Karros said in jest so Lo Duca could hear.

Green entered the series hitting .231 with three home runs, 21 RBI and led the league grounding into 12 double-plays. In these three games, he went 9-for-14 with six homers and 10 RBIs. Eight of his hits went for extra bases. In six career games at Miller Park, he is 13-for-24 with nine home runs.

Tracy said Green's problems have been mechanical, but hitting is a "feel" thing to Green and he is never very good explaining it good or bad.

"The first night of the series I got a home run, then I got another one and it started to catch on and it wasn't a fluke," Green said. "After that, my swing has been where I want it to be. Yesterday I tripled on a pitch that's been eating me up all year. Little things like that help you realize things are right."

He hit home runs off Glendon Rusch in the second inning, two off Brian Mallette in the fourth and fifth innings, then needed Chad Kreuter to double and Beltre to homer in the top of the ninth so he'd get a second shot at No. 4 after singling in the eighth inning. He also hit two in Tuesday's disappointing loss, the Dodgers missing a series sweep because they blew a 5-0 lead.

Green said he homered Thursday on three fastballs and a slider. At no time did Brewers pitchers brush back a Dodger hitter, especially surprising Green.

"If I had gotten drilled, I'd still be the happiest guy in Milwaukee," said Green. "I was looking for a pitch up in the zone, something to drive and got it."

The magnitude of the achievement was still sinking in as he dressed for the flight to Phoenix.

"I wish I had a few days off to enjoy it," he said. "The ball's been looking like a ping-pong ball, but today it was like a softball. It's incredible to be in the same category as guys like Mays and Gehrig. It's incredible to have records like this. Duke Snider, they wrote a song about him. They're legends."

With nine home runs, Green is only one off last year's pace. The Dodgers are 9-1 in games against left-handed starters and are 13-3 in games started by their lefties.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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