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Garner to use four starters
10/12/2004 3:02 AM ET
ATLANTA -- Houston Astros manager Phil Garner, soaked in cheap champagne following his club's 12-3 win over the Braves on Monday night, tried his best to share some insight as to how the starting rotation is going to shake out during the National League Championship Series.

But what it all came down to is one big TBA -- in other words, ask him Tuesday when he's actually had a chance to think about it.

Garner wasn't lying when he said time and time again during the Division Series that he has not thought past that day's game. He would not speculate on what he would do in an LCS until he got there.

Well, now he's there, and the only thing he does know is that he's increasing his three-man rotation to four, and that Pete Munro is going to pitch in one of the opening games.

"Munro is going to pitch," Garner said. "We need a four-man rotation."

Garner will likely target Munro as the Game 1 starter, with Brandon Backe pitching Game 2. That would give Roger Clemens the Game 3 start at home, on five days' rest, while Roy Oswalt would pitch Game 4 Sunday, also on his sixth day.


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But for now, it's all speculation.

"There's been talk about Game 1," Munro said. "We'll see. That's what Clemens said, probably me 1 and Backe 2. That would be good, you know."

Munro last pitched on Oct. 2, when he was lifted after 2 2/3 innings when Garner opted to go with a pinch-hitter. Without the luxury of a 33-man September roster, Munro will likely have to absorb more innings this month if the Astros are going to have a chance to win.

"I might have to slow down," Munro said. "My last start was a pretty big start and I was rushing, rushing, rushing. Clemens came up to me and said, 'Slow down!' In big games, I tend to rush what I'm doing."

Munro is up to the challenge of helping the Astros get to the World Series.

Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals
 GAME LOCATION DAY DATE TIME (ET) TV FINAL
Game 1 at St. Louis         STL 10, HOU 7
Game 2 at St. Louis Thu. Oct. 14 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 3 at Houston Sat. Oct. 16 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 4 at Houston Sun. Oct. 17 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 5* at Houston Mon. Oct. 18 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 6* at St. Louis Wed. Oct. 20 4:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 7* at St. Louis Thu. Oct. 21 8:00 p.m. FOX  
 * If necessary

"The thing with this team is that when pressure comes, everybody has stepped up so far," he said. "They're expecting me to step up, too. Best-of-seven this time, man."

Backe, who had a stellar outing against the Cardinals toward the end of the Astros' 19-game home win streak, is also ready.

"I'm definitely not afraid, but they're a heck of a lineup," said Backe, who was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA over six games -- two starts -- vs. St. Louis this year. "They've got seven guys in that lineup that can hit the ball out of the park at any time. It's definitely a lineup to be careful with.

"But you also have to establish yourself early in the game and let them know that you're not playing with them. I'm going to pitch the way I'm going to pitch no matter what."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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