ST. LOUIS — Even though they hold a commanding two-games-to-none lead in the National League division series, the Dodgers could have some extra incentive to complete a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals today at Busch Stadium.
If the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in Game 3, they could bring back co-ace Chris Carpenter on short rest for Game 4 and have Adam Wainwright, their other co-ace, available on regular rest for Game 5.
Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa acknowledged Friday that Carpenter was one option to start a potential Game 4. The other alternatives are Kyle Lohse or John Smoltz, who has a record 15 postseason victories but has struggled for most of the season.
"We're spending a lot of time thinking about what we do to get to Game 4," La Russa said. "I mean, that is definitely the priority. . . . Ninety-nine percent of our attention is on trying to get to Sunday."
The Dodgers scored four runs against Carpenter in five innings Wednesday during a 5-3 victory in Game 1.
But the right-hander had dominated the Dodgers throughout his career before that, going 5-0 with a 2.20 earned-run average in six previous starts.
Matt Holliday never cited the white towels that Dodgers fans waved as a contributing factor to his error that led to the Cardinals' meltdown in the ninth inning of Game 2; the left fielder said he simply lost James Loney's sinking liner in the Dodger Stadium lights.
But that didn't stop Wainwright from blasting the Dodgers for allowing fans to become towel twirlers.
"That ball got lost in 50,000 white towels shaking in front of Matt's face," Wainwright said Thursday. "It doesn't really seem fair that an opposing team should be able to allow their fans to shake white towels when there's a white baseball flying through the air.
"How about Dodger blue towels?"
La Russa described Wainwright's outburst as "a case of a really high-quality, first-class teammate trying to cut his left fielder a break. . . . I'll guarantee you if white towels were distracting, we'd have white towels and do everything we do to distract the opponent."
Ready . . . or not
Joel Pineiro, who will start today's must-win Game 3 for the Cardinals, isn't exactly coming into the postseason on a hot streak. He went 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA over his final seven starts of the regular season.
"I was just hoping I took the kinks out early before the postseason," said Pineiro, who finished the season 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA. "I think it all evens out. I had a pretty good stretch for about two, 2 1/2 months in June, July and August."
Pineiro did not get a decision in his only start against the Dodgers this season, even though he allowed only one run in eight innings during the Cardinals' 3-2 victory on July 29 at Busch Stadium.