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Garner postgame quotes
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10/09/2004 6:18 PM ET
Garner postgame quotes
Houston manager looks ahead to Game 4 vs. Braves
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Q: Going into this game, Brandon Backe had had trouble with left handers; they were hitting .360 against him. Today, he stopped them. What did he do differently?

A: I think it was not just necessarily left-handers. I thought his pitches were crisp today. I thought he had pretty good location. That can work no matter who you're pitching against, left-handers or right-handers. Today, I thought he pitched like he had been doing it for a while.

In particular, when he finished off the sixth inning, he did a good job, he did a real good job. Looked like he got strong in that inning, which is what you like to see.

Going after the hitters was his big deal today, left-handers and right-handers.

Q: (J.D.) Drew was 2-for-12. Chipper (Jones)is 0-for-11. Can you talk about the importance of the way you stopped them?

A: They're very good hitters. I think, in some respects, we have pitched them well; in some respects, we've been a little bit fortunate too.

By the same token, when Furcal has been getting on base a lot, and he has, it's very important to pitch well to those guys. Otherwise, you're in a vulnerable situation. I think our guys have done a real good job of containing the middle part of the order.

Q: Was Backe more hyper today, or did he treat it like another game?

A: Actually, I thought he was keyed down a little bit. I didn't think he was as amped up as I've seen him in the past. I don't mean that in a bad way; I mean that in a good way. We all enjoy his enthusiasm and energy level. Today, he seemed to me to be somewhat just a little more low-key. Now he's still excitable, and he still has got a lot of energy. But I thought when he took the mound today, he had a little more calm to him than I think I've seen in the past.

Q: Jeff Kent had a big hit, a big double, but he also played very well at second base. As a fielder yourself, you had to appreciate that?

A: As a manager, I appreciate that (laughter). He played very well. Jeff has definitely picked it up defensively. You're right, he doesn't get enough credit for his defense, but there's nobody in this game that turns a double play better than Jeff. He has been making some terrific plays the last six weeks here. He's been ranging all over, making some very fine plays. So in addition to what he's brought to us offensively and his veteran leadership, he's played very well defensively, definitely picked it up.

Q: Bobby Cox mentioned that he would really like to get an early lead in the game. You've been able to do that. How have you been able to manage that?

A: Well, I'd do that every day if I could. I would do it every ballgame if it worked out that way. You know how important I thought the lead was, we walked a guy with a one-run lead to get to the pitcher. Ultimately, it didn't work out because he got a base hit to drive in a run. I think in these big games, the lead, the momentum on your side during the game is the key to the games in most cases. We perhaps had the momentum in the second inning, we get hit with a line drive, and the momentum might have switched over to their side. They hit into a double play, the momentum switched back to our side. There are always these interplays.

If you can get the momentum and maintain it, I think most teams are better when they have the lead. We're no exception. If there's a magic to being able to get the lead in the game, I don't know what it is. We'd like to do it every time we're out there.

Q: In the fifth inning, when you had a couple men on, Brad Ausmus made the last out. If he had gotten on, you would have had bases loaded. Would you have pinch-hit for Backe in that situation?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you talk about where you are with your starting pitching? Game 4 will be Roger Clemens. What about Game 5?

A: I haven't gone to Game 5 yet. In my mind, I haven't given -- I haven't said what I'm going to do. Roy (Oswalt) threw a light pen today. We're focused on tomorrow. I think our bullpen is in very good shape. As a matter of fact, it was good to get (Russ) Springer in the ballgame. I wish I could have gotten (Chad) Harville and (Dan) Wheeler in the game today, also. They haven't pitched in a few days.

The bottom line is that we won the game today so we're in good shape in that regard. We can use all the bullpen, and we will use all the bullpen if necessary. But we're going to ask Roger to come back on short time tomorrow, and we'll do everything we can to get that early lead and to hold on to it, and we'll use everybody. So whatever Roger can give us tomorrow will be good, and we'll go from there.

Q: How comfortable are you with Roger pitching on three days' rest?

A: Well, I stated that I'm not a fan of coming back on three days, but I'm a fan of Roger Clemens. This is one of the greatest pitchers in the game today, so I'm very comfortable asking him to do this, and I think he's comfortable trying to do it.

Q: Can you talk about Mo (Morgan Ensberg)?

A: Mo was fantastic today. As a matter of fact, I'm a little disappointed. I thought he was going to do it last game, but he did it today. Came up big. Got the big hit, runner on. What was that, the fourth inning? Came up with the ball off Chipper's glove in the corner and put another run on the board.

He swung the bat very well; he swung the bat well in this series as well. It's a big day for him, and it was a big plus for us.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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