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Bullpen gives Torre matchup luxury

Bullpen gives Torre matchup luxury

MILWAUKEE -- When presented with his options for closing out the ninth inning in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Brewers, the most intriguing option for Dodgers manager Joe Torre came with the most risk.

Torre went with it anyway, matching up right-hander Ronald Belisario, lefty George Sherrill and right-hander Octavio Dotel with Brewers sluggers Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee.

"What really caused that, and why we had the idea to do it, was based on the fact that Prince Fielder was in the middle of it," Torre said. "When you're in a one-run game, you just have to figure out how to navigate your way through it.

With that plan, each of the three pitchers got their respective jobs done, retiring one batter. Dotel, in fact, needed just two pitches to get McGehee out for the save. It's a plan that worked well, but one that could have spelled disaster for the Dodgers.

If any one of the three were unable to complete their assigned task, the Dodgers could have been headed for extra innings with a thin bullpen. The plan beyond McGehee, Torre said, was to keep Dotel in the game. If it had not been for Fielder batting between Braun and McGehee, the inning would have been Dotel's with the Brewers' right-handed heavy lineup.

"It worked out for us," Torre said. "We just felt we needed to do that based on the fact that you can't ignore what Fielder is capable of doing."

The decision may have been easier for Torre considering the pedigree of the pitchers in his bullpen. As pointed out by Brewers manager Ken Macha after Wednesday's game, nearly every guy in the Dodgers' bullpen has closing experience.

Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo closed Tuesday's series-opening victory. Jonathan Broxton, who pitched a clean eighth inning on Wednesday, had been the Dodgers' closer until recently. Sherrill closed games in Baltimore before coming to Los Angeles. Dotel, in his 12th Major League season, has closed games for a number of other teams, including the Astros, Athletics and Pirates.

"We have nice pieces down there at the end of the game, there's no question," Torre said. "We get a [close game] situation in the last couple innings, we've got a lot of choices, especially now with George, you've got a left-handed choice aside from Kuo.

"Hopefully we're in a position in a lot of games to have that mean something."

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