Luis Cruz wasn't a significant piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster until third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. went down for the rest of the season in mid-August with inflammation in his left hip. Since then, the four-year veteran has done more than his share to help keep his team in the postseason hunt.
Cruz greeted St. Louis reliever Edwin Mujica with a first-pitch, three-run homer in the sixth inning Friday night, and the Dodgers tightened up the NL wild-card race with an 8-5 victory over the Cardinals.
''It was very uplifting,'' said Dodgers left fielder Shane Victorino as LA moved withing a game of the wild-card lead. ''In this game, confidence it very big. But to me, he's always been a great player, I played against him, and he's never gotten has his opportunity to really go out there and shine. Then it took Jerry getting hurt to get him his opportunity. And when he got it, he shined.
''He's one of those guys on this team ...