Cardinals short hops10/17/2004 10:22 PM ET
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Cardinals have been in this position before under manager Tony La Russa: Up by two games in the National League Championship Series, only to have their opponent come roaring back.
It happened in 1996 when St. Louis was up 3-1 over Atlanta. The Braves won twice to tie the best-of-seven series, and then won the Game 7 finale, 15-0, behind a four-hit shutout by Tom Glavine and two relievers.
La Russa has managed the Cardinals since 1996 and has been to the NLCS four times. He has yet to get the Redbirds into the World Series.
This time, the Cards were up 2-0, but the Astros came back to tie the series with weekend victories at Minute Maid Park. La Russa couldn't have been more disappointed after his team couldn't hold leads of 3-0 and 5-3 to lose Game 4 on Sunday, 6-5.
"Well, if you're not disappointed, you don't care about winning the game," La Russa said. "Sometimes you break their hearts, sometimes they break yours."
A look at key statistics through Game 4 of the NLCS.
||Total breakdown: Four starters have allowed 13 runs and 20 hits in 21 innings
||Revived after a Game 3 slowdown, but quieted down in the later innings
||Outscored, 9-2, in Game 3s, while outscoring the opposition, 41-25, in other postseason games
||Make that 72 postseason innings and counting without an error
||.600 (9-for-15, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)
||Is 0-for-3 vs. Roger Clemens, 9-for-12 vs. rest of Astros staff
||.375 (6-for-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R)
||After slow start, was raking it until whiffing in last two at-bats
||.118 (2-for-17, 1 RBI, 3 R)
||At least he contributed something with a walk and a run scored
||.071 (1-for-14, one single)
||Has disappeared off the face of the earth after .455 NLDS vs. Dodgers
Behind the numbers
The starters have been bad, but the relievers were worse on Sunday. Kiko Calero and Julian Tavarez couldn't hold a 5-3 lead.
You had to wonder what Jason Marquis was thinking when he tried to stretch a single into a double with one out and nobody on in the fourth. Right-fielder Lance Berkman nonchalanted the ball, but woke up from his nap long enough to easily toss Marquis out at second base. Larry Walker and Pujols followed with singles, so the gaffe cost the Cardinals at least a run, maybe a big inning and perhaps the game.
It was a good idea at the time: La Russa lifted Marquis in the fifth inning with Craig Biggio on first via a single, none out and a strike on Carlos Beltran. Calero came on and whiffed Beltran and Jeff Bagwell looking before Biggio was tossed out trying to steal second with Berkman at the plate. But the very next inning, Calero allowed the game-tying runs.
Homers, homers, homers
The Cards (8) and the Astros (11) have combined to hit 19 in the first four games of the series, four less than the 23 the Marlins and Cubs hit last year in seven NLCS games.
Cards have been there before
Houston is the first team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in the NLCS since the Cards did it to the Dodgers in 1985. St. Louis won that series in six games. The year before, the Padres turned the same trick against the Cubs and won in what was the last year of the best-of-five LCS format.
"I wouldn't say winning [Game 5] is essential, but it would be nice to get on that plane [on Monday] night and work out in our own ballpark on Tuesday with a chance to lock up the series on Wednesday." -- Cardinals reliever Ray King
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.