The Dodgers’ Blues Roll On : Baseball: Tracy Woodson, former L.A. third baseman, makes diving stop to help Cardinals preserve a 1-0 victory.


As if they had not already seen enough to rattle their wits, the Dodgers were visited by the ghost of Jeff Hamilton on Friday.

Remember him? The guy who probably set a major league record for the most consecutive seasons as a third baseman of the future?

Tracy Woodson remembers him.

In fact, Jeff Hamilton may have been one reason Woodson pumped his fist into the air Friday after making a diving stop that saved the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1-0 victory over the Dodgers in front of 28,254 at Busch Stadium.


Woodson was one of several casualties in the Dodgers’ fight to make Hamilton a star. After contributing to their 1988 World Series championship, Woodson played in four games the next year before being traded and spending the next two seasons in the minor leagues.

Well, Woodson is back.

And on a night when the Dodgers fell into a tie with the Philadelphia Phillies for the worst record in the National League, they could not avoid him.

“That play killed us,” Eric Karros said.

It was Karros’ hard grounder down the third base line that Woodson grabbed, with runners on second and third base in the sixth inning.

Woodson flipped the ball to first base to end the inning, save two runs, and eventually preserve a three-hit shutout by Cardinals pitchers Mark Clark, Todd Worrell and Lee Smith.

“At first I thought the ball was a double,” Karros said. “Then he dove and I said, ‘Oh, it might not be a double.’ Then he caught it and I said, ‘Oh, it might not even be a hit.”

The Dodgers, who did not reach base against rookie Clark until the fifth inning, did not reach base again after that grounder.


Clark, who won for the first time since beating the Dodgers seven weeks ago, pitched a perfect seventh. Then Worrell and Smith combined to throw 20 strikes in the final 28 pitches to give the Dodgers their 34th one-run loss in 49 one-run games.

Clark is 2-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average against the Dodgers, and 1-7 with a 4.37 ERA against the rest of the league.

“We’re numb,” said Bob Ojeda, who gave up four hits in seven innings and got the loss.

Ojeda felt that way after facing one batter Friday, when Bernard Gilkey was ruled safe at first base after a bunt even though television replays showed that Ojeda’s throw to Karros beat him.

Gilkey eventually scored the only run the Cardinals needed on a fly ball by Andres Galarraga.

“After a while, you just get beat down so far,” said Ojeda, 6-6 despite a 3.30 ERA.

With each day, the Cardinals are growing more attached to Woodson. He is battling to supplant Todd Zeile as their regular third baseman after hitting .305 with 15 runs batted in in 15 games since being recalled from triple-A Louisville.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is playing infrequently and indifferently at triple-A Albuquerque, awaiting his chance to leave the organization through free agency this winter.


Woodson walked away from Albuquerque late in the 1989 season to deal with marital problems and a flood in his Richmond, Va., home.

After playing in triple A for the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves the past two seasons, last winter he retired. Only repeated phone calls by Ted Simmons, then-Cardinal general manager, persuaded him to join Louisville.

“My career was at the very bottom, as low as you can go,” Woodson said. “But now I’m no longer scared to check the lineup card after going 0 for 4. Now I know I’m getting a chance.”

And now, Jeff Hamilton and the Dodgers are miles away. Both on the map and in the standings.