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Schourek’s Success Hurting Dodgers Now : NL: Former Met left-hander hits stride with Reds and proves it again by quieting Dodgers.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There is a reason the New York Mets are a mess of an organization, and Tuesday it came back to hurt the Dodgers.

In April 1994, the Mets put Pete Schourek on waivers, claiming impatience and intolerance. Schourek had gone 11-20 in 1992-93 and the Mets gave up.

Same way they once gave up on a young rough-around-the-edges fastball pitcher named Ryan.

The Cincinnati Reds saw the light. They scooped Schourek off the waiver wire, gave his windup the once-over and turned him loose on the league.

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Schourek was an 18-game winner this season. He lost only seven.

And, in his first playoff performance, the 26-year-old left-hander from Austin, Tex., pitched seven solid innings and picked up the win in the Reds’ 7-2 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Schourek yielded five hits, struck out five and walked three.

Though he had thoroughly socked it to the Dodgers, Schourek refused to sock it to the Mets.

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“The only thing they could base it on was what I was doing for them,” Schourek said of the Mets’ decision to unload him.

A mistake?

“In hindsight you could say that,” he said ."But they had no reason to keep me around with the numbers I was putting up for them.”

The Reds plan to keep him around. If necessary, Schourek is tentatively scheduled to pitch Game 5 of the division series in Cincinnati on Sunday.

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None of the Reds would hold their breath.

“He’s been doing that all year,” outfielder Reggie Sanders said of Schourek’s performance on Tuesday. “I wasn’t at all surprised with Pete.”

Here’s why: Schourek was 4-0 in September with an earned-run average of 2.21. He was 2-0 in two starts against the Dodgers in 1995, with an ERA of 1.13.

The only doubt was that Schourek was a 5-5 pitcher on the road this season.

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But how would he react to his first taste of the postseason?

Schourek thought he would have more jitters.

“I had some butterflies,” he said. “But I was able to calm myself down last night, and before the game. Four runs in the first helped.”

Don’t they always?

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Schourek started strong by retiring the Dodgers in order in the first and then tap-danced his way through the lineup, keeping himself out of major trouble.

Brett Butler dinged him with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning and, in the sixth, catcher Mike Piazza hit a solo home run.

Schourek said it was important to keep the top of the Dodger lineup quiet. Butler had one hit in four at-bats and was not a base-path pest, as is his custom. Chad Fonville, the pesky No. 2 hitter, was hitless in three at-bats against Schourek.

“I think that’s the biggest key in the whole lineup,” he said. “Giving up solo homers to Piazza, [Raul] Mondesi or [Eric] Karros, those guys, really aren’t going to hurt you that bad. The two- and three-run home runs, the big inning, are the ones that are going to turn the tide.”

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The Reds can’t get over Schourek. When catcher Benito Santiago was with the Padres, he admits he never feared Schourek The Met.

“I like to hit against any left-handed pitcher,” Santiago said. “But he’s pitching great. It’s amazing how the guy I hit against is so different now that I’m catching him. He’s so comfortable out there. It looks like he’s been 20 years on the mound.”

Schourek can’t fully explain what happened when he arrived in Cincinnati. Only that it changed his career.

“When I came to Cincinnati, I was the same pitcher I was when I was in New York,” Schourek said.

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He kids himself. Schourek was 7-2 in 1994.

“It’s taken me a while to get accustomed to what they were trying to teach me over here,” he said, “arm angles and stuff, using my legs more. Soon as I became comfortable with that, seems like it started to take off.”

Schourek credits Red General Manager Jim Bowden and Manager Davey Johnson’s patience.

Unlike another team.

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“That was a long time ago,” he said of his Mets’ days. “No way I could have imagined starting this game tonight after being released, I should say waived, two years ago. But with the help of Jim Bowden and Davey Johnson, they took a chance on me and worked me hard.”

Tuesday, Schourek returned the favor on the Dodgers.

Schourek hopes his team won’t need him the rest of this series. But he’s willing to do anything to push his team into the next round. He’d even come back and pitch a day early if asked.


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