"The other two series are in the book. It has no relevance," said La Russa.
The Cardinals trotted out their best lineup for one of the few times in the second half of the season and played some of their best baseball, both defensively and offensively.
But center fielder Jim Edmonds, who has had a toe injury and, more important, has been suffering from post-concussion syndrome, hit the ground hard when he dived for an eighth-inning triple by Brian Giles.
"We worry about Thursday," La Russa said of Edmonds' availability for Game 2. "I don't know if he jarred himself or whatever."
The Cardinals will pitch right-hander Jeff Weaver on Thursday, with the hope that Weaver, more than anybody else, would be able to come back on three days' rest in Game 5, if it is needed.
La Russa said the Cardinals plan to go with just three starters. Right-hander Jeff Suppan will pitch Game 3 on Saturday in St. Louis and Carpenter, because the series has an extra off day, can pitch in Game 4 on Sunday with four days' rest if the Cardinals so choose.
REPLAY: First baseman Albert Pujols' 50th home run this year -- a two-run shot in the fourth inning -- represented the 20th homer he had hit that accounted for the game-winning runs as the Cardinals beat San Diego 5-1 in the first game of the National League Division Series.
Right-hander Chris Carpenter improved his record to 3-0 in the playoffs, two of them Division Series wins, by allowing just one run in 6 1/3 innings.
--Manager Tony La Russa's record in Division Series games is 18-4. The Cardinals have won five previous Division Series out of six with La Russa as manager, and four were sweeps.
--CF Jim Edmonds drove in a run with a fifth-inning single, giving him 16 NLDS runs batted in, most by a Cardinals batter.
--RHP Adam Wainwright fanned two of the four men he faced in a perfect 1 1/3-inning relief stint to close out the game.
--The last time the Cardinals started the lineup they employed on Tuesday was on Aug. 15 when RHP Chris Carpenter blanked Cincinnati, 5-0.
--2B Ronnie Belliard was 2 for 2 in his first postseason game and also made an exceptional play in the field and another good one. The standout play came with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, when Belliard ranged well onto the outfield grass to rob Todd Walker of what would have been a two-run single.
--Rookie RHP Anthony Reyes was left off the playoff roster, as were INF Jose Vizcaino and RHP Jorge Sosa. Rookie RHP Josh Kinney and RHP Brad Thompson pitched their way onto the squad as middle relievers.
BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Number of games the Cardinals lost in three long winless streaks (8, 8 and 7).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is the most huge of the huge ones he's had." -- Manager Tony La Russa, on 1B Albert Pujols' game-winning homer Sept. 27 to beat San Diego 4-2 and end a seven-game losing streak.