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Notes: Cards happy to be home
10/19/2004 4:29 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Unlike in football or basketball, baseball's on-field rules of play actually favor the home team. If you're playing in your house, you get the last hacks at bat. Yet that doesn't seem to be enough to explain the success that both St. Louis and Houston have had at their home ballparks lately.

No team has won a road game yet in the National League Championship Series, with the home club winning the first five contests. The Astros have 22 wins in their past 23 games at Minute Maid Park, while the Cardinals are 51-16 at Busch Stadium since early May.

The NLCS comes back to St. Louis for its final two games, which would seem to indicate that the Cards have the edge -- despite the fact that they trail in the series, 3-2.

"It's nice to be home," said Jim Edmonds. "Obviously it's a little different when you're playing defense and their crowd is so loud. When you're on defense, it makes it pretty intense for the pitchers to make the right pitch and to play defense and make the right play.

"They're hitting with the excitement. I'm sure the crowd has a lot to do with it. You've got to look for anything you can right now to turn this around."

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St. Louis manager Tony La Russa acknowledged that there's something tougher about winning on the road, and it goes beyond who gets the last turn at bat.

"We'll see, come Thursday night," La Russa said. "So far, it's worked that way.

"Much like Busch Stadium, I think their fans gave them a chance. They knew going in there that they were gonna get a lot of enthusiasm and they weren't going in there as a typical 0-2 team. Just like we're not coming in here as a typical team that's lost three in a row. Fans can really help you. Theirs did. Ours do.

"Baseball is so beautiful in that way, and there's no script for it, but that is the difference in this series and the [ALCS]. Boston has to win two games with Yankees fans going crazy. We've got to win two with our fans going crazy. So there's an edge there. Now it's whether we can take advantage of it or whether they can overcome it."

   Woody Williams  /   P
Born: 08/19/66
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Tough guy: Woody Williams pitched five innings with a strained calf on Monday night. The injury resulted from him legging out a foul ball in the third inning, and he went on to pitch superbly through the seventh despite the soreness. He was limping visibly in the clubhouse after the game, but feeling somewhat better at Tuesday's workout.

Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg described the injury as a "mild to moderate" calf strain. However, Weinberg said he had every expectation that Williams would be available to pitch if the Redbirds were to make the World Series.

"If we're fortunate enough to get there," Weinberg said, "Woody's not gonna take himself out of a game."

Good for ball: La Russa frequently notes that, above all, he's a baseball fan, and he's made that clear throughout the postseason. He's watched a great deal of the other series going on, including the ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox.

A reporter asked him if he appreciated how much the game of baseball was benefiting from the high level of play in the two League Championship Series.

"I'm as big a baseball fan as any of you are, or any of our fans who are watching this thing," La Russa said. "It's my favorite sport. So I know what Boston has done the last two days, and the way the Yankees have made it hard on them.

"I have to believe that anybody who watched that game yesterday, or any of our five games -- I don't think anybody's disappointed. That was a heck of a show last night. Defense, pitching, especially the way the offenses have been lighting it up."

The manager said that he has seen more games this postseason than in any he can remember.

Lineup? Don't expect any radical lineup changes from the Cards on Wednesday, even after they were one-hit in Game 5 in Houston. Had Roger Clemens been handed the ball for Game 6, St. Louis might have made a change or two, but with Pete Munro as the starting pitcher, it should be the same eight regulars.

"Since my family's not here and we've got a night off, I've got nothing else to do but think about my lineup," La Russa said. "So we'll wait until [Wednesday to announce it]. But you can expect nothing too dramatic. I like what I saw yesterday, even if we didn't get the results we wanted."

Marquis in 'pen: La Russa said on Tuesday that Game 4 starter Jason Marquis will be available to pitch out of the bullpen in Game 6 and/or Game 7 against Houston. Marquis was also available, though not used, in Los Angeles after his Game 2 start in the NL Division Series.

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

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