10/13/2002 5:34 pm ET
Cards, Giants ready to battle
Giants don't want to return to St. Louis
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the San Francisco Giants there is no alternative: Win or the National League Championship Series will return to St. Louis on Wednesday.
"Obviously we don't want that to happen," Giants second baseman Rich Aurilia said. "We can still keep that from happening if we can take care of business here (at Pacific Bell Park)."
The Giants, who lead the best of seven series two games to one, missed a chance to go up 3-0 in the series on Saturday but they can take a giant step towards a World Series berth by nailing down Game 4 today. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. (PT).
The Giants will have their "Mr. October," Livan Hernandez, taking the mound for this crucial game. Game Five will be played here Monday night. If a Game 6 is necessary, it will be played Wednesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Hernandez's credentials suggest he might be the man to help the Giants in their quest to end the NLCS here and advance to the World Series. The right-hander has a career 6-0 record in October and pitched well in his last start when the Giants faced elimination against Atlanta in Game Four of the NLDS.
"We're in a good situation (to be leading the series) but there's a long way to go," Hernandez said. "We have to keep it up, we can't let them come back like we did (against Atlanta)."
The Cardinals will counter with 13-year veteran Andy Benes. The right-hander's amazing comeback after he had been pondering retirement earlier this season has been one of the bigger surprise stories of the season. Benes, 35, returned to action on July 12 after a opening the season on the disabled list because of knee problems.
Since Benes came back he has won five of seven decisions and his 1.86 ERA was the best in the Majors after the All-Star break.
"I think we made it a competitive series, but they are still in charge," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "We've got to find a way to solve Hernandez and Andy has to shut them down. I would rather be in their position, but at least we have a series going."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This article was not sujbect to approval by Major League Baseball.