MLB Insiders - Cardinals Advance To The NLCS

La Russa's record is 20-5 in Division Series games, but the next round, the National League Championship Series, has not been so kind. In five previous NLCS trips, he is 11-19.

Manager Tony La Russa's Division Series record is impeccable. La Russa's teams have won six of seven first-round series after the Cardinals dispatched San Diego 6-2 Sunday night to wrap up the series, three games to one.

By pitching ace right-hander Chris Carpenter on Sunday to close out the series, La Russa has lost him for the first game of the NLCS on Wednesday and possibly Game 2 on Thursday, too.

Right-hander Jeff Weaver, the Game 2 winner in the Division Series, is the likely choice to face the New York Mets on Wednesday, and right-hander Jeff Suppan, or perhaps Carpenter on three days' rest, will go in Game 2.

Look for the Cardinals to go to four starters in the next round rather than the three they employed in the Division Series. That means the fourth would be either right-hander Jason Marquis, the only Cardinal not to participate in the division round, or rookie right-hander Anthony Reyes, who was not on the Division Series roster.

REPLAY: Chris Carpenter, after giving up two runs in a 34-pitch first inning, raised his Division Series record to 3-0 and his playoff record to 4-0 by working seven strong innings to beat San Diego 6-2 Sunday and give the Cardinals a 3-1 National League Division Series victory.

Juan Encarnacion's run-scoring triple off Woody Williams broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth, fueling a four-run inning.

--The Cardinals' bullpen, featuring three rookies with RHP Jason Isringhausen out after hip surgery, pitched a Division Series record 13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over the four games. Relievers gave up only nine hits and fanned 16 while stranding all 12 runners they inherited.

--Cardinals batters hit .375 with runners in scoring position in the series. 3B Scott Spiezio, replacing ailing Scott Rolen, singled in a run in the four-run sixth and, counting his Anaheim Angels experience in 2002, is 12-for-18 (.667) in his postseason career with men in scoring position.

--3B Scott Rolen didn't play Sunday because of fatigue in his left shoulder, and he wasn't going to play Monday, either, if there had been a fifth game in the San Diego series. Manager Tony La Russa is hoping to have Rolen, who had two shoulder surgeries last season, ready for Wednesday's first game of the NLCS.

--The Padres batted only .191 against Cardinals relievers and were held to six runs in four games overall.

--2B Ronnie Belliard, who hit just .237 after coming from Cleveland in late July, was 6 for 13 (.462) in the Division Series.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Counting this year, number of times the Cardinals have been in the NLCS in the last 25 years.

QUOTE - "They've got a great club. We're going to celebrate tonight and worry about them tomorrow." -- RHP Chris Carpenter on the New York Mets, the Cardinals' opponent in the NLCS.

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