MLB Insiders - Advantage St. Louis

The Cardinals may have more of an edge in starting pitching over the New York Mets than they thought they might have had in this National League Championship Series. Rookie Anthony Reyes takes the mound Sunday for the Cardinals in Game Four.

Right-hander Jeff Suppan pitched eight outstanding innings in Game 3 and New York's Steve Trachsel, considered at least comparable to Suppan, lasted only one inning before being felled by the Cardinals' offense -- especially Preston Wilson's smash, which went off his right thigh.

Through three games, the Cardinals have had an excellent start from Suppan, a good start from Jeff Weaver and an uneven one from Chris Carpenter, the staff ace. The Mets have had one excellent one from 40-year-old Tom Glavine, a bad one from John Maine and a worse one from Trachsel.

In the regular season, the Cardinals won only 83 games, but they are just two victories away from the World Series. If they make it, they would have the second-worst record of any club to make the Series. The 1973 Mets won 82 but beat 99-win Cincinnati in the NLCS.

Sunday night's fourth game is a jump-ball affair. Cardinals rookie Anthony Reyes hasn't pitched since Oct. 1. Nor has Mets starter Oliver Perez.

Though Scott Spiezio has knocked in five runs in the last two games, including two Saturday night with a first-inning triple, manager Tony La Russa said he didn't know if Spiezio would be in the Game 4 lineup. Spiezio is hitless in two career at-bats against Perez.

Third baseman Scott Rolen, who was benched Friday for Game 2, returned to the lineup and singled and walked besides making two outstanding defensive plays.

REPLAY: Scott Spiezio's first-inning triple landed just out of the reach of diving New York Mets right fielder Shawn Green, knocking in two runs, and Jeff Suppan hit the second homer of his career -- both off Mets right-hander Steve Trachsel -- to highlight a three-run second as the Cardinals blanked the Mets 5-0 Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in games in the National League Championship Series.

Suppan, who did not have a complete game this year, worked eight innings of three-hit ball and allowed only two Mets to reach second base.


--LF Scott Spiezio, who was 1-for-2, is 15-for-22 (.682) with runners in scoring position in his two postseasons with Anaheim (2002) and the Cardinals.

--1B Albert Pujols singled twice, giving him 30 NLCS hits for his career.

--The Cardinals won easily despite going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

--RF Preston Wilson had a good two-way night. He walked and singled, scored twice, threw out a runner at second and made an over-the-shoulder catch. But he is 1-for-11 with five strikeouts (and six walks) against Game 4 starter Oliver Perez.

--The Cardinals have shut out the Mets for the last 12 innings.

BY THE NUMBERS: .400 -- RHP Jeff Suppan's batting average in postseason play.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I swung and it ran into my bat." -- RHP Jeff Suppan on his Game 3 homer.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories