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Asked to bunt, Uribe ups the ante with decisive homer

After two failed sacrifice attempts, third baseman puts Dodgers ahead to stay

LOS ANGELES -- With the Dodgers trailing by a run and down to their final six outs in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, all manager Don Mattingly wanted Juan Uribe to do was drop down a bunt in order to move the potential tying run over to third base. Uribe did his skipper one -- or two -- better.

Unable to get the bunt down in fair territory on his first two tries, Uribe was turned loose at the plate with Yasiel Puig on second base and the Dodgers trailing, 3-2. The third baseman took a pair of pitches outside of the zone to work the count even before crushing a 2-2 David Carpenter offering over the left-field wall for what proved to be a game-winning, series-clinching two-run homer in a 4-3 win on Monday.

"This moment, today, I'll never forget," said Uribe, who also hit a home run in the Dodgers' Game 3 victory one night earlier. "You know, I see a lot of people are watching this game, and I feel great. I feel good for myself. I feel good for my teammates. We wanted the win today."

As for Mattingly, he admitted that he began second-guessing his decision to have Uribe bunt following the second foul bunt attempt. At that point, the skipper was just hoping Uribe could put the ball in play to the right side of the field.

Yet Uribe didn't quite execute that plan, either.

"We just wanted to get [Puig] over to third. We want to get the game back tied at that point, that's all," Mattingly said. "But that's what I get for trying to bunt him, right? It worked out pretty great for us."

It turns out Uribe actually had the same idea as his skipper once the count went to 0-2. He, too, wanted to put a ball in play to the right side, but instead deposited an 84-mph slider into the Dodgers' bullpen.

"I tried to go right field, and I think that's why I've got time to see the breaking ball," Uribe said. "You know, I tried to go to right field to get the run. I'm thinking that's what helped me so I can see the breaking ball better."

With Braves shutdown closer Craig Kimbrel warming in the bullpen, a Game 5 in Atlanta started to seem more and more likely with each passing at-bat.

Uribe returned to a mob of teammates swarming him on the top step of the dugout. As the Dodgers took the field for the top of the ninth, chants of "U-ri-be" echoed throughout Dodger Stadium.

Given his status as one of the most respected players in the Dodgers' clubhouse and the struggles Uribe has endured over the last two seasons, the moment seemed every bit as gratifying for Uribe's teammates as it was for Uribe himself.

"Regardless of what Juan did the past two years, Juan has been -- I think the consensus is he's probably been the most liked teammate we have. He's an incredible guy," Game 4 starter Clayton Kershaw said. "He's always the same, no matter what. You couldn't tell if he's 1-for-30 or 30-for-30. The way he plays, I just couldn't be happier for him. I love him to death."

Uribe is one of just a few players on the Dodgers roster with not only World Series experience, but two rings to show for it. Even with those titles to his name, however, Uribe called Monday's home run, given what he's been through in the last two years, the best moment of his 13-year big league career.

He was a member of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, as well as the 2010 Giants championship team. During the Giants' title run, Uribe delivered a similar eighth-inning, series-clinching homer in Game 6 of the NLCS.

With San Francisco locked in a 2-2 tie with the Phillies in the Oct. 23 game at Citizens Bank Park, Uribe broke the deadlock with a two-out solo home run in the top of the eighth. It held up as the eventual game-winner and Uribe went on to hit another homer in Game 1 of the World Series against the Rangers, as well as a go-ahead shot in the decisive Game 5 win in Texas.

"This moment today -- this is what I tell my teammates about. A lot of people want to be in the moment that we have right now," Uribe said. "And this moment, we'll never forget. Today, what we did today, I'll never forget this moment. And I think a lot of people feel like that."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.
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