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Torre mulling Game 5 starter options

Torre mulling Game 5 starter

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PHILADELPHIA -- Moments after Sandy Koufax was seen in the Dodgers clubhouse Sunday, manager Joe Torre backpedaled on whether Clayton Kershaw would start Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Dream on if you think one had anything to do with the other. Koufax, 73 and living part-time in Pennsylvania, was just visiting Torre and a few staff members.

Kershaw, the next Koufax in the minds of Dodgers optimists, is 21 and coming off a shaky Game 1 start. With Vicente Padilla's stock soaring and the extra day off between Games 4 and 5, Torre is considering moving Padilla ahead of Kershaw, just as he would have moved Kershaw ahead of Randy Wolf if there had been a Game 5 in the NL Division Series.

"Possibly," Torre said of a switch in the rotation. "[Kershaw] is one of the options. Padilla could be one of the options. We've talked to both of them about the fact that we haven't decided just to let them know and let them in on the thinking so they'll be ready. Both were throwing a bullpen today."

In Game 1, Kershaw pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball, then imploded in a five-run fifth that included three walks and an NLCS-record three wild pitches. In Game 2, Padilla allowed a solo home run to Ryan Howard in seven otherwise dominating innings while dueling Pedro Martinez, after throwing seven scoreless innings in the NLDS clincher in St. Louis.

Torre said the outcomes of Games 3 and 4 would have some impact on which way he decides, but he wouldn't drop any hints.

NL Championship Series
Gm. 1 PHI 8, LAD 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 LAD 2, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 PHI 11, LAD 0 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 PHI 5, LAD 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 10, LAD 4 Wrap Video

"Padilla was obviously impressive his last outing and there's the experience-wise," said Torre. "At this point in time, I don't know what will tip the scales, what the breakdown would be in the first four games for either one to pitch."

Because of the days off Saturday and Tuesday, Kershaw would be pitching six days after his first start, while Padilla would be on a regular five-day cycle.

"Off-days certainly help with the pitching decisions," Torre said. "They allow you to do things in the bullpen you'd be hesitant about."

As for Game 3, Torre juggled his batting order, moving Ronnie Belliard from seventh to second. He explained the decision had more to do with keeping Andre Ethier in the three-hole than wanting Belliard's hot bat coming up sooner. Torre had been batting Ethier second against left-handed starters and dropping him down to third against right-handers.

"I've been a lot more comfortable with him against left-handers," Torre said of Ethier.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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