ST. LOUIS — Injuries have hit the St. Louis Cardinals so hard coming into Tuesday night's first game of the National League championship series that they can't even avoid them while sleeping.
On a list that already includes Jack Clark (severely sprained ankle), Willie McGee (sore thumb and wrist) and Jim Lindeman (sore back), add pitcher Danny Cox.
Cox, scheduled to be the Cardinals' starting pitcher against the San Francisco Giants in Game 1, suffered a stiff and sore neck when he awoke Monday morning from what he described as a fitful sleep.
X-rays were negative, but the condition did not improve Tuesday. So, Cox walked into Manager Whitey Herzog's office late in the afternoon and told him he could not pitch.
This did not turn out to be as much as a blow as it first appeared. Greg Mathews, Cox's replacement, pitched solidly over 7 innings and had two runs batted in with a sixth-inning single in the Cardinals' 5-3 win over the Giants.
"I looked at Greg in the clubhouse when Whitey told him he was pitching and, really, he took it well," Cox said. "He had to be a little worried, though."
By late Tuesday night, Cox did not seem at all worried about his neck.
"I don't understand it," Cox said. "I sleep the same way every night. I just woke up and it hurt."
Cox said he that, earlier Tuesday, he could not turn his neck from left to right. He said he felt like he had been in a car accident.
"I can't drive to the plate (on his delivery), because that's when I use my front shoulder and turn my head," Cox said. "I got a treatment today and hoped it would help. But I still feel bad."
Herzog said Cox is expected to pitch in Game 3 Friday night at Candlestick Park. Mathews was supposed to start that game before being nudged up to Tuesday's start. "You know, it doesn't seem like we get hurt on the field," Cox said. "There's Vince (Coleman) and the tarp (accident during the1985 playoffs) and John Tudor breaking his leg in the dugout. It's weird. We laugh about it."
Add Mathews: Before his two-run single in the sixth, Mathews had two sacrifice bunts. That tied the National League championship Series record for most sacrifices in a game. Six other players are tied with him.
Add records: Tuesday night's crowd of 55,331 at Busch Stadium was the largest in the stadium's history. the previous high was 54,693 in 1968 when the Cardinals met the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Despite his first-inning fielding error and near-base running error, Dan Driessen still contributed Tuesday night with two doubles as Jack Clark's replacement at first base.
But Driessen, a left-handed hitter, likely will be on the bench today in Game 2 when the Cardinals face Giant left-hander Dave Dravecky.
Right-handed-hitting Jim Lindeman, bothered recently by a sore back, is expected to start.
Tudor, today's Cardinal starting pitcher, says he doesn't expect this to bea long series.
"I think one team is going to blow the other out," Tudor said. "If the Giants get it going, they are tough to beat. And you guys know what our guys can do when they get going. I'm not saying we can intimidate them, but guys like Vince Coleman are tough on you.
"Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it will go seven (games). If it does, I hope we win it."
About a half hour after the final out, a hard rain fell on the Busch Stadium artificial turf. However, there is no forecast for rain this afternoon.
Clark, discussing ex-teammate Jeffrey Leonard's fourth-inning homer and oh-so-slow trot around the bases. "I think he knew about halfway to first base that maybe he'd better start running hard, because it's so hard to hit a ball out of this place. I think he ran hard all the way to second base before he broke down and took the Hac-Man strut. It doesn't bother me one way or another, because I know him and like him, but for an outsider looking in, I could see where they wouldn't like it. Some of our guys probably thought it wasn't necessary for him to do that."
Of Dan Driessen's clutch double in the sixth, Clark said: "This guy could always hit. What he's done in the big leagues--over 200 homers, a lot of RBIs--they didn't just put that stuff on his bubble gum card. He's got hits in his life that other players have only dreamed about."
Driessen made only 15 starts for St. Louis during the season. . . . This one, and the rally-starting hit, were particularly satisfying, since Driessen was released by San Francisco during spring training. "It's nice to get a chance to redeem yourself," Driessen said. "They sent me on my way, and I almost never made it back."
The Cardinals' Coleman said: "That wasn't the Rick Reuschel I know out there tonight. The Reuschel I know keeps the ball down. This Reuschel got everything up. He probably won't be so easy to hit next time--if there is a next time."
Times staff writer Mike Downey contributed to this story.