Baseball : Division Series National League

October 05, 2004

NL: Dodgers vs. Cardinals

Season series: Cardinals won, 4-2.

Managers: Jim Tracy is 356-292 (.549) in four years with the Dodgers, 0-0 in the postseason; Tony La Russa is 794-663 (.545) in nine years with the Cardinals, 16-15 in the postseason.

Pitching matchups: Game 1 -- Dodgers LHP Odalis Perez (7-6, 3.25) vs. Cardinals RHP Woody Williams (11-8, 4.18); Game 2 -- Dodgers RHP Jeff Weaver (13-13, 4.01) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (15-7, 3.71); Game 3 -- Dodgers RHP Jose Lima (13-5, 4.07) vs. Cardinals RHP Matt Morris (15-10, 4.72).

Series surprise: SS Edgar Renteria went hitless with six strikeouts in 20 at-bats against the Dodgers. He entered the season as a .309 lifetime hitter against them.

Series keys

Awesome threesome: It may be a bit much to ask the Dodgers pitchers to shut down Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. The Dodgers need to minimize the damage by keeping the table-setters off base. Rolen (.358) and Pujols (.343) ranked third and sixth in the NL, respectively, hitting with runners in scoring position.

Bullish bullpens: Neither team will have an easy time coming from behind in the series, considering the Cardinals (3.01) and Dodgers (3.06) have the league's two best bullpens. Closers Jason Isringhausen and Eric Gagne were among the NL's best.

Defense: The Dodgers were superb, pacing the National League with a league-low 73 errors. They can't afford to give the Cardinals' explosive offense any extra outs. The middle infield tandem of Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis is among the game's best.

-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Today Time

Starter Line W-L ERA

Los Angeles Perez (L) 1:09 7-6 3.25

at St. Louis Williams (R) -160 11-8 4.18

Schedule

Today: Los Angeles at St. Louis, 1:09 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday: Los Angeles at St. Louis, 8:19 p.m. (FOX)

Saturday: St. Louis at Los Angeles, TBA

*Sunday: St. Louis at Los Angeles, TBA

*Monday: Los Angeles at St. Louis, TBA

NL: Astros vs. Braves

Season series: Tied, 3-3.

Managers: Phil Garner is 48-26 in less than one year with the Astros, 0-0 in the postseason; Bobby Cox is 1,381-916 (.601) in 15 years with the Braves, 60-56 in the postseason.

Pitching matchups: Game 1 -- Astros RHP Roger Clemens (18-4, 2.98) vs. Braves RHP Jaret Wright (15-8, 3.28); Game 2 -- Astros RHP Roy Oswalt (20-10, 3.49) vs. Braves LHP Mike Hampton (13-9, 4.28); Game 3 -- Astros RHP Brandon Backe (5-3, 4.30) vs. Braves RHP John Thomson (14-8, 3.72).

Series surprise: Braves rookie 1B Adam LaRoche blistered Astros pitching this season, going 6-for-17 (.353) with a double, a homer and four RBIs in six games.

Series keys

Starting something: The Braves (3.84) and the Astros (4.03) ranked second and third in the NL, respectively, in starters' ERA. The Braves would be at a disadvantage if Thomson (strained oblique) can't pitch. Russ Ortiz has been terrible of late.

Home cooking: If the Astros can go home with a split, look out. They ended the regular season on an 18-game Minute Maid Park winning streak that included sweeps of the Phillies, Cardinals and Rockies.

Been there, done that: The Braves keep winning with different personnel, but they still have a seasoned postseason roster. The Braves' starting eight position players, including Julio Franco at first, have 27 1/4 games of postseason experience on average.

-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tomorrow Time

Starter Line W-L ERA

Houston Clemens (R) -125 18-4 2.98

at Atlanta Wright (R) 4:09 15-8 3.28

Schedule

Tomorrow: Houston at Atlanta, 4:09 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday: Houston at Atlanta, 4:09 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday: Atlanta at Houston, TBA

*Sunday: Atlanta at Houston, TBA

*Oct. 11: Houston at Atlanta, TBA

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