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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / NATIONAL LEAGUE

Peavy Glad to Start in San Diego

Padres have not had the home-field advantage in the postseason since the 1984 World Series.

October 03, 2006|From the Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Home-field advantage has never looked so good to the San Diego Padres and their injury-free ace, Jake Peavy.

A year after being swept out of the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League West champion Padres get another shot at Chris Carpenter and the NL Central champions. This time, the first two games will be at Petco Park, starting today.

If needed, Game 5 also will be played there.

"You know, we need to get the series off to a good start these first two games and hopefully get into St. Louis with a chance to clinch it," Peavy said Monday after the Padres had a workout at their downtown ballpark.

Besides the 1984 World Series, the Padres have never started a postseason series at home.

A year ago, besides having a much better team, the Cardinals benefited from Peavy pitching despite two broken ribs.

Peavy hurt himself when he jumped on closer Trevor Hoffman's head while celebrating the Padres' division title several days earlier, then fell behind 8-0 in the playoff opener.

Peavy, who has been prone to freak injuries the last two seasons, said he's sound now.

"I'm feeling a lot better than I was last year," the 25-year-old right-hander said. "You know, no excuses. This time out I feel as good as I've felt all year. The first half was a bit of a struggle, but the second half, I've been healthy, making my starts without any interference physically."

Or at least the Padres hope.

"With Jake, we always wait until right before the game to make sure he's OK," Padres Manager Bruce Bochy said.

Peavy was an uncharacteristic 11-14 with a 4.09 earned-run average this season. In part, his numbers were because of shoulder tendinitis early in the season and a lack of run support.

San Diego is in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time. The Padres won four of six this year against the Cardinals, including taking two of three in St. Louis last week.

But in the one loss, the Padres got a reminder of how dangerous Albert Pujols can be.

The slugger hit an impressive three-run home run off rookie sidearm pitcher Cla Meredith with two outs in the eighth inning last Wednesday night for a 4-2 Cardinals' victory.

Bochy said he'll let game situations dictate whether the Padres pitch to Pujols or walk him.

"Obviously, when you have a hitter of that caliber, you're hoping not to make any mistakes," Bochy said. "We're going to play to win every game. If that means pitching to him or putting him on, we'll do what we think we need to do to win that game."

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