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Cards-Giants is classic matchup
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League Championship Series
10/09/2002 6:17 pm ET 
Cards-Giants is classic matchup
By Jim Molony /

Barry Bonds will receive special attention from Cardinals pitchers in the NLCS. (John Bazemore/AP)
ST. LOUIS -- Game 1 of the National League Championship Series had that Fall Classic feel late Wednesday afternoon. A cool autumn evening was approaching and a sea of red-clad fans were already queuing up outside Busch Stadium in anticipation of a truly marquee matchup: The St. Louis Cardinals and ace Matt Morris against the San Francisco Giants and slugger Barry Bonds.

Morris, 17-9 this season and 1-0 in the NLDS, will square off against the Giants and left-hander Kirk Rueter with the first pitch scheduled for 7:20 p.m. CT

Rueter, 14-8 during the regular season and 0-1 against Atlanta in the NLDS, was born and raised in the area and still lives just across the Mississippi in Nashville, Ill.

"I'm sure there's going to be some goose bumps," Rueter said. "To pitch a playoff game is big enough, to pitch one here against the Cardinals, they don't come any bigger to somebody who grew up watching this team. This place will be rocking."

Bonds, a four-time MVP who set a Major League single-season record with 73 home runs last year, is making his fourth NLCS appearance and first since 1992. He has never appeared in a World Series game.

Back to "He hit three home runs (in the NLDS)," Morris said. "He's a guy that if he gets going he can really carry a team."

The Cardinals were without injured third baseman Scott Rolen, who hopes to be available by the end of the series and is still on the active playoff roster. But the rest of their formidable lineup, led by Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, were ready to go in the series opener.

The winner of the best-of-seven NLCS will advance to the World Series. The Cardinals haven't been since 1987, while the Giants haven't appeared in the Fall Classic since 1989.

Jim Molony is a writer for based in Houston. He can be reached at This article was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball.

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