MLB Insiders - Just One More

The Cardinals sent Chris Carpenter ahead to New York, and Carpenter will be well-rested Wednesday night when the Cardinals try to wrap up the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

But when the Cardinals take the field in Game 6, they might have to do without shortstop David Eckstein, who sustained two injuries during the 4-2 Cardinals victory in Game 5 on Tuesday.

Eckstein was examined at a local hospital after the game for a sprained right shoulder, suffered when he dived for a ball in the first inning, and then he also suffered an apparent bruise to his right hand while trying to execute a suicide squeeze bunt in the eighth inning.

On the squeeze play, Mets reliever Guillermo Mota threw inside as the runner broke for the plate, and the pitch caught a piece of Eckstein's hand when it hit his bat and rolled foul.

REPLAY: Pitching coach Dave Duncan has worked some magic with some pitchers this season, but probably his best efforts have come in recycling right-hander Jeff Weaver, who was 3-10 with the Angels.

Weaver turned in his third strong postseason effort and scored his second win by tossing six innings Tuesday, giving up just two runs in the Cardinals' 4-2 victory in Game 5 of the NLCS. His postseason ERA is 2.16.

"I don't even remember the first half of the season," said Weaver.

Manager Tony La Russa seemed to push all the right buttons. Though outfielder Chris Duncan had a difficult time with left-handed pitching during the regular season, batting .170 (8-for-47), he was allowed to pinch hit against left-hander Pedro Feliciano in the sixth inning and homered for an insurance run.

Albert Pujols, who hadn't driven in six games, counting the last two of the Division Series, hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to start a Cardinals comeback from a 2-0 deficit.

Ronnie Belliard's single later in the inning tied the score and Preston Wilson singled home the lead run in the fifth for the Cardinals.


--The Cardinals were only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but that was better than the Mets' 1-for-8.

--OF Chris Duncan's pinch home run in the sixth was the Cardinals' second pinch homer of the postseason. OF So Taguchi hit one in Game 3 of the Division Series against San Diego.

--1B Albert Pujols' fourth-inning homer was the 12th postseason HR of his career, tying Yogi Berra for 11th on the career list.

--RHP Jeff Weaver won for the sixth time in his last eight starts, dating to the regular season.

--RHP Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' new closer with RHP Jason Isringhausen out after hip surgery, posted his second postseason save by setting down the final four hitters, fanning two.

BY THE NUMBERS: 31 -- Number of hitters Cardinals relievers have faced in the postseason with runners in scoring position and two out. Not a single one of those batters has gotten a hit.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've gotten such a huge lift from those guys." -- Manager Tony La Russa on the Cardinals' young bullpen.

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