The probable Game 1 starter hasn't worked since last Tuesday, when he beat the Dodgers, 8-3, in the opener of the NLCS. Was put in the Game 1 slot with Chris Carpenter injured. Williams will have to be on with his off-speed pitches to give the Cards the early edge. He was 11-8 this season with a 4.18 ERA, but won only six times in 15 starts at Busch Stadium, including the NLDS victory over Los Angeles.
Morris has battled inconsistency but continues to demonstrate big-game stuff. Pitched well enough to win Game 3 at Dodger Stadium this past Saturday, but was beaten, 4-0, by Jose Lima, who threw a complete-game shutout. Was 15-10 during the regular season, with nine of his wins coming at Busch Stadium.
Suppan made his postseason debut in Game 4 of the NLDS and helped the Cardinals clinch the series with seven strong innings of two-hit ball in a 6-2 victory. He was 11-1 on the road -- his only loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park in his final 2004 outing. His start again in Game 4 at Houston is apropos. The Cards were 9-1 in his July and August starts, but 3-3 in September.
The probable Game 2 starter, Marquis didn't earn a decision in last Wednesday's 8-3 Game 2 win over the Dodgers. Marquis left in the fourth inning after having given up four hits and three earned runs. Would have been in the bullpen had Carpenter been healthy. Won nine of his 15 regular-season victories in Busch Stadium. Marquis won 11 consecutive decisions earlier this year, but dropped three of his last four.
Pitches: Sinker, changeup, curve Speed: Mid-80s to mid-90s mph
BRANDON BACKE RHP
Following season-ending injuries to Andy Pettitte and Wade Miller, Backe became the third starter by default and came up big, replacing the ill Clemens on the final day of the regular season when Houston needed a win to wrap up the Wild Card berth. He worked Game 3 of the division series last Saturday in Houston and pitched six innings of five-hit ball in Houston's 8-5 win. An excellent athlete, the former shortstop is the best hitting pitcher on the club and above-average defensively.
Munro was passed over in the division series as the Astros went with a three-man rotation. But with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt each pitching on three days' rest and twice each in the five-game victory over the Braves, Astros manager Phil Garner seems to have no choice. He will have to use Munro in either of the first two games at St. Louis, saving the big two for Games 3 and 4 in Houston this weekend. He was 4-7 with a 5.15 ERA this season in 21 appearances (19 starts) and hasn't pitched since working 2 2/3 innings in a 4-2 victory over Colorado on Oct. 1.
Pitches: Fastball, changeup Speed: 75-85 mph
ROGER CLEMENS RHP
Clemens had the flu and was scratched from a scheduled start in the final game of the regular season, but worked Games 1 and 4 of the division series against the Braves, winning Game 1. In Game 4, working on three days' rest, Clemens was gassed after five innings and left with the Astros leading, 5-2. The Astros wound up losing the game. He was 12-3 at home this season, but don't expect to see him until Game 3 at Minute Maid on Saturday, setting the 42-year-old Clemens up for a possible Game 7 start, if needed.
A 20-game winner for the first time, Oswalt is 13-3 since the All-Star break, including a masterful performance in Game 5 against the Braves that locked down the Astros' third run into the NLCS and first postseason series victory in their 42-year history. Oswalt really began to roll when he mastered the changeup, a pitch he rarely threw before this season. It has helped set up his other pitches and produced more groundball outs and strikeouts.
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