Williams to Face Old Teammates

Woody Williams admits he has always liked pitching in St. Louis. But he dismissed questions about pitching against the Cardinals Sunday in a game the Padres need to win to stay alive in the National League Championship Series. "There's no reason to discuss my time as a Cardinal," he scoffed. "History."

Williams, 40, has a 26-8 record in St. Louis with a 2.94 ERA. Most of that success came as a Cardinal -- 45-22 for the St. Louis over 3 1/4 seasons through the end of 2004. He was also 2-0 for the Cardinals in this round of the playoffs.

Sunday, however, he will be pitching in St. Louis as a Padre. Williams said he isn't feeling any pressure.

"Without being overconfident, even when we were down 2-0 (to the Cardinals), we were loose and confident," he said. "We play our best ball when our backs are to the wall.

"The bottom line is, if I pitch well, we keep going. It's been that way the last five or six starts. It's fun. We've played so long to get to this point. May as well keep going."

The Padres are hoping Williams is the pitcher who won his last five starts of the regular season with a 2.73 ERA, including a 7-5 victory over his old team Sept. 26 at the new Busch Stadium. Williams was 8-1 in his last 10 starts.

Plus, he seems to bring out the best in the Padres. They were 17-7 in his 24 starts. And while other Padres pitchers have struggled with the lack of run support, Williams has been getting more than six runs a game -- the sixth-highest figure in the National League.

Williams will be matched against Chris Carpenter, who won the series opener Tuesday in San Diego, on Sunday.

REPLAY: Right-hander Chris Young blanked St. Louis on four hits over 6 2/3 innings Saturday and third baseman Russell Branyan hit a two-run double in the fourth, then scored on a sacrifice fly, to lead the Padres to a 3-1 victory Saturday and prevent the Cardinals from sweeping San Diego out of the playoffs for a third time in 11 seasons.

The Cardinals had defeated the Padres in eight straight playoff games and had not trailed the Padres in a postseason game since 1996 when Branyan lined a full-count pitch from Jeff Suppan inside the right-field foul line.

--RHP Jake Peavy will start for the Padres on Monday at San Diego should the Padres win Sunday in St. Louis to even the series at 2-2. Peavy was the losing pitcher in the series opener, giving up five runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

--Despite winning 3-1 Saturday the Padres stranded 14 baserunners, including nine in scoring position -- seven of which got into position with less than two outs (including two runners who reached third with none out). Russell Branyan's two-run double is the only hit the Padres have with runners in scoring position in 25 at-bats against the Cardinals. Said Mike Piazza: "We like to strand the population of a small village on the bases. It's our trademark. It's fun doing things the hard way. We were anxious with runners on. It was obvious. We were kind of laughing that it was a typical win for us."

--SS Khalil Greene was considered for a start Saturday, but manager Bruce Bochy elected to stick with Geoff Blum at short. Greene, who is recuperating from a torn ligament in the middle finger of his glove hand, hasn't started since Aug. 17. He entered Saturday's game in a double-switch and went 0-for-2. "We did debate starting Khalil at length," Bochy said. "Blum has been playing well and he'd had success (9-for-16) against (Jeff) Suppan. I didn't think it was fair to Greene to throw him in there."

--LF Dave Roberts went 3-for-3 against RHP Jeff Suppan to raise his lifetime mark against the Cards starter to 10-for-14.

--RHP Trevor Hoffman's save opportunity Saturday was his first in the postseason since he gave up the two-run homer to the Yankees' Scott Brosius in the third game of the 1998 World Series.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8-1 -- RHP Woody Williams' record in his last 10 starts this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's going to be fun. I can't get too emotional about it." -- RHP Woody Williams on his Game 4 start.

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