One loss from elimination, St. Louis keeping its cool

Tony La Russa's in-game moves have worked out for the Cardinals in Game 3. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Tony La Russa's in-game moves have worked out for the Cardinals in Game 3. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 05, 2011

ST. LOUIS - The theme in the Cardinals clubhouse after Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies that leaves them on the brink of elimination in the National League division series was "been there, done that."

In other words, the club professed confidence that their season won't end on Wednesday.

The Phillies lead the best-of-five series, two games to one, and can close it out when Roy Oswalt faces Cardinals righthander Edwin Jackson at Busch Stadium.

This is a Cardinals team that trailed Atlanta by 101/2 games in the wild-card race on Aug. 25 before overtaking the Braves on the last day of the season.

"This is how it's been the last six weeks for us," said second baseman Ryan Theriot, who has been on a tear this series. "We have to come out and win [Wednesday]."

Theriot has been a tough out all series. He went 4 for 5 in the loss and is 6 for 9 (.667) with two runs scored.

But Theriot may not be in the lineup on Wednesday. He bats righthanded and didn't play in Game 1 against Phillies righthander Roy Halladay.

With Oswalt on the mound, it will be interesting if Cards manager Tony La Russa goes with his Game 1 starter at second base, the versatile Skip Schumaker.

Hamels cools Freese

Cardinals third baseman David Freese was happy to see Cole Hamels leave the game after six innings. Freese struck out three times against Hamels.

With Hamels out of the game, Freese delivered an RBI single in the seventh before grounding out in the ninth. For the series he is 2 for 12 (.167).

Four hitters

Theriot and Albert Pujols (4 for 5 with three doubles) each recorded four hits to become the 11th and 12th players with four-hit games for the Cardinals in postseason history.

Good catch

In the ninth inning, Schumaker was inserted in center field and made a diving catch on a ball hit by Carlos Ruiz. The play was initially ruled a hit, before the umpires conferred and changed the call. And based on TV replays, it was the right decision.

"I came up and saw Polanco on first and came up halfway [to second base], and I came up to throw because I knew I got it," said Schumaker. "It was a big moment, and they got together and got the play right."

Not a fine day

La Russa didn't have a very happy 67th birthday on Tuesday. Beside the loss, it was learned that he was fined an undisclosed amount for criticizing umpire Jerry Meals' strike zone in Game 2.

"Well I have no disagreement at all," La Russa said of the fine. "As soon as MLB called, my response was, 'Whatever is imposed, you'll get no argument.' I am embarrassed I crossed the line."

La Russa said if he gets the chance, he would apologize to Meals.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225,, or @sjnard on Twitter.

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