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10/18/06 1:51 AM ET

Chess Match: Pitching to Pujols

Decision to challenge dormant slugger may have turned tide

Challenging Albert
The situation: With quips between Albert Pujols and Tom Glavine serving as the backdrop (Pujols saying after Glavine's Game 1 performance that the pitcher wasn't that good, and Glavine saying before his Game 5 start that maybe he'd have to do something to impress Pujols), Glavine faced the Cards' first baseman in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The decision: With the Mets ahead, 2-0, and one out with nobody on base, Glavine challenged Pujols. Prior to the at-bat, Pujols was 4-for-15 in the series without a home run.

The outcome: Glavine left a 2-2 pitch out over the plate and Pujols lined it into the first row of the left-field bleachers.

The analysis: "You know, we were sitting on zero, and that got us going and really perked us up. Give Albert a lot of credit, and then the guys who came behind to tie it. We all had visions of getting shut out again by Mr. Glavine. He was working us over." -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa

"We just made some good adjustments. Good quality at-bats, that was the key." -- Pujols, on the difference between facing Glavine in Games 1 and 5

"I made two mistakes to Albert, and he hit one of them. I hung a change to him [in the first inning] and he popped it up. The second time, I tried to throw a change in, and it leaked back over the plate a little bit."
-- Glavine

"Everybody likes to see Albert go deep. It was like a lightning bolt here." -- Cards reliever Josh Kinney

A quick hook
The situation: After giving up two runs on three hits in the fourth inning, Glavine began the fifth by allowing a single to David Eckstein, an RBI double to Preston Wilson and an intentional walk to Pujols.

The decision: With Glavine already at 80 pitches and having allowed eight of his last 10 batters to reach base, manager Willie Randolph replaced him with right-hander Chad Bradford.

The outcome: Bradford allowed a soft line-drive single to Juan Encarnacion to fill the bases, but then struck out Scott Rolen. Left-hander Pedro Feliciano then came in and retired Jim Edmonds and Ronnie Belliard to halt the damage.

The analysis: "I thought it was the right time to do it. He was struggling a little bit in that inning. I thought it was a great time." -- Randolph, on pulling Glavine

"It's a big game. You've got to go with our bullpen. It's been doing so good." -- Glavine

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What percentages?
The situation: Cards starter Jeff Weaver was due up with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. He had thrown 95 pitches and allowed two runs on six hits against a Mets lineup that had erupted for 12 runs the night before.

The decision: Cards manager Tony La Russa pinch-hit for Weaver. But he may have shocked the world when he sent up left-handed hitter Chris Duncan to face left-hander Feliciano. Duncan had been 8-for-47 against lefties this season, with two home runs.

The outcome: Duncan made his skipper look like a genius, hitting a home run inside the right-field foul pole for a 4-2 lead.

The analysis: "Chris is so much fun to watch get better and better and better. Right-hander, left-hander, I mean he's got no fear." --La Russa

"Well, close game like that, I just want to make sure I took a good at-bat -- just try to find a way to get on base. You know, once I [worked a full count], I knew in a close ballgame like that, he couldn't walk me. So, I wanted to make sure I was going to be aggressive in that count, and he happened to leave a breaking ball up." -- Duncan

Paul Bodi is the Executive Editor, East Divisions for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.