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From walk to walk-off, Blake set stage

From walk to walk-off, Blake set stage

LOS ANGELES -- Casey Blake was angry, miffed, irate, perplexed, whatever you want to call it.

It was the bottom of the ninth and first-base umpire Mike Everitt had just ruled Blake's check-swing attempt strike No. 2 to make the count an unfavorable 1-2.

To say that Blake disagreed with the call would be a major understatement. Blake stepped away from the box, looked at Everitt and raised his arms in disgust.

It wasn't the best mind-set to have heading into the rest of the at-bat, to say the least.

"I can't really describe what I was feeling," Blake said after the Dodgers rallied in stunning fashion to defeat the Cardinals, 3-2, and take a 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series.

"I just had a bunch of nerves all of a sudden and was real uptight, couldn't breathe. I was angry also. So that certainly didn't help."

But somehow Blake channeled his rage. He fouled off three pitches and watched three others miss the plate to draw a walk and put the pressure on the Cardinals and reliever Ryan Franklin.

"Blake just wore down their pitcher," Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said.

Ronnie Belliard roped the first pitch of the next at-bat into the outfield for an RBI single that tied the score at 2.

Blake said his walk forced Franklin into an uncomfortable situation against Belliard.

"Belliard comes up and knows [Franklin] wants to throw a strike," Blake said. "He's gotta throw a strike right there. He doesn't want to walk him.

"Ronnie, being a veteran player, knows that and was able to do something good there."

Division Series
Gm. 1LAD 5, STL 3WrapVideo
Gm. 2LAD 3, STL 2WrapVideo
Gm. 3LAD 5, STL 1WrapVideo

But Belliard's RBI knock -- and then Mark Loretta's game-winner on which Blake scored -- wouldn't have been possible if Blake didn't win his battle with Franklin.

"Casey Blake had an amazing at-bat, an amazing at-bat," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

There were nine pitches in all -- six coming after the controversial check-swing call -- each ripe with a game's worth of tension.

"You just don't want to swing at anything off the plate," Blake said. "He's probably trying to get you to chase there, and you have to kind of know that and just see the ball."

Maybe Blake's anger helped him focus and lay off enough pitches to earn a free base. Blake certainly said that he might have found a new approach to take to the batter's box.

"I need to take that up for every at-bat," he said. "I need to find somebody to get mad at for every at-bat."

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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