MLB Insiders - The Soup is on for Game 7

Right-hander Jeff Suppan has pitched a Game 7 before, winning the National League Championship Series final against the Houston Astros in 2004. Now, he will try to reprise that when he faces New York Mets left-hander Oliver Perez on Thursday night in Game 7 of this NLCS.

"It's an experience you'll never forget," manager Tony La Russa said. "(The players) are getting ready to have the experience of a lifetime if you're in professional sports."

La Russa would like to forget some of the experiences of Wednesday night, when the Cardinals lost 4-2 to the Mets. They failed to score until the ninth, when pinch hitter So Taguchi raised his postseason record to 4-for-4 with a two-run double off Mets closer Billy Wagner. Taguchi had homered off Wagner to win the second game of the series.

The game probably got away from the Cardinals in the first when they had runners at second and third with one out and Jim Edmonds fanned. Juan Encarnacion was hit by a pitch, but Scott Rolen, hitting .160 this postseason, flied out.

REPLAY: The Cardinals had held Mets shortstop Jose Reyes well in check for the first five games of the NLCS. But Reyes homered to lead off the Mets' first and then singled twice and stole his first two bases of the series as the Mets scored a 4-2 victory that evened the NLCS at three games apiece.

Right-hander Chris Carpenter pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs in six innings. But right-hander Braden Looper, a former Met who virtually was booed out of town, allowed two runs in the eighth inning to take the Cardinals further out of the game.


--SS David Eckstein played despite a sprained left shoulder and bruised right hand, both injuries having been suffered on Tuesday. He walked once but failed to get the ball out of the infield in his other four at-bats and just missed a couple of balls to his right.

--If the Cardinals win Thursday night, they would become the team with the second-worst regular-season record (83-78) to make the World Series. There have been only five other teams that finished less than 20 games over .500 and still qualified for the World Series. The worst: the 1973 New York Mets, who were 82-79.

--The Cardinals were 1-for-8 with men in scoring position and are 9-for-46 (.196) for the series.

--Since 1985, the home team is 5-2 in NLCS Game 7's. The Cardinals are 2-1 in that time, winning in 1987 and 2004 and losing in 1996.

--OF So Taguchi is slugging 2.750 and batting 1.000 in the postseason. He probably won't start Thursday night, though, because manager Tony La Russa likely wants to keep him for a ninth-inning at-bat against Mets LHP Billy Wagner.

--RHP Chris Carpenter suffered his first postseason loss after four victories, two last year and two this year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- It might have seemed like more, but that's the number of innings in which the Cardinals had a runner in scoring position in Game 6. They scored in only one inning, the ninth.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to get at least one there." -- Manager Tony La Russa on the Cardinals' inability to get a run in the first inning after having runners on second and third with one out.

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