10/14/2002 5:46 pm ET
Cardinals face Giant challenge
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a season where they have overcome tragedy and adversity, the St. Louis Cardinals face yet another formidable obstacle.
If the Cardinals are going to keep their inspiring season alive for another day, they will have to do what no team has ever accomplished: Come back from a three games-to-one deficit after losing the first two games of the League Championship Series at home.
Three teams have come back from 3-1 deficits to win the LCS, but none of those teams dropped the first two games at home.
"It's very difficult, but not impossible," said Cardinal right-hander Matt Morris, who will pitch Game 5 at Pacific Bell Park against left-hander Kirk Rueter and San Francisco beginning at 5:20 p.m. PST. "We can't think about trying to win three in a row, we just have to think about winning one and getting this thing back to St. Louis."
If the Cardinals win Monday night the series will return to Busch Stadium for a Game 6 on Wednesday. If the Giants win, the NLCS would be over and an all-California World Series would begin Saturday in Anaheim.
"We've got a chance to close it out [Monday night] and that's what we want to do," Giants first baseman J.T. Snow said. "Nobody wants to have to go back to St. Louis. We want to end it here for the fans. That won't be easy against a guy like Morris."
San Francisco fans will be out in force. A sellout crowd is expected as this city has caught Giants fever. Fans were already lined up to purchase World Series tickets outside the ballpark Sunday night after the Giants moved to within a victory of clinching the franchise's first National League pennant since 1989 and a spot in the World Series against the Angels.
At the Powell Street Station on Monday afternoon scores of orange-and-black clad fans talked of the Giants while waiting to catch a cable car to the north side of town. Giants colors, caps and T-shirts were visible from South Beach to Union Station and from Union Station to Fisherman's Wharf. Tickets to the game were scarce, but pennant-clinching celebrations were scheduled for numerous area clubs and restaurants Monday evening.
The Cardinals, however, aren't ready to go away quietly.
After winning Game 3, they squandered numerous opportunities during Game 4 on Sunday, stranding 11 baserunners including seven at third base. They held San Francisco to only four hits and still came out on the losing end of a 4-3 verdict. The frustrating nature of the defeat was hard to fathom for the Cardinals but it also underscored how close this series came to being tied up.
"[Sunday's game] was about as close as a game can get," St. Louis pitcher Andy Benes said. "A game like that can go either way. This time it went their way, maybe [Monday] it will go our way."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was not sujbect to approval by Major League Baseball.