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Suppan Has Chance to Clinch for St. Louis

October 07, 2006|From the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Instead of trying to avoid a first-round playoff sweep, the St. Louis Cardinals are trying to complete one.

After finishing the regular season in a tailspin, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series against the San Diego Padres. The series resumes today with the first postseason game at the new Busch Stadium.

"The last six weeks or two months, we had trouble winning two games in a row," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said Friday. "We've had two solid games. We've played the whole thing: pitching, defense and hitting, a lot of energy. It's been fun."

Jeff Suppan, who pitched two playoff clinchers for the Cardinals in 2004, starts today against Chris Young.

"To be in this situation is a great feeling for me," said Suppan, whose team had not won consecutive road games since July 25-26 before it took the first two games at San Diego.

It isn't a great feeling for Bruce Bochy. Since he became Padres manager, San Diego is 0-8 against St. Louis in the playoffs, including sweeps in 1996 and last year.

"A lot of these guys don't know, but I know we haven't beaten them in a postseason game yet," Bochy said.

San Diego has been limited to one run and 10 hits the first two games and gone 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

Young has not lost in 24 road starts dating to June 25 last year at Houston. He was 6-0 with a NL-best 2.41 earned-run average on the road this year. He was bothered by back tightness after his regular-season start at St. Louis on Sept. 27, when he gave up one run and three hits in seven innings. He said his back is fine now and noted that he threw 95 pitches in that game.

"I don't think by any means I came out early," Young said. "I turned the game over in the eighth inning to the best bullpen in the league."

Chris Carpenter would start Game 4 on regular rest Sunday if San Diego wins Game 3.

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