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October 8, 2005

David Eckstein

Tony La Russa


KATY FEENEY: We have David Eckstein. We'll take questions for David.

Q. Good time for your first post-season home run. Did you realize that was your first?

DAVID ECKSTEIN: Yes. It was one of those things that just trying to get a pitch, and hit an extra base hit, with a man on first with two outs. Just fortunate enough that I was able to hit it and get it out of the park.

Q. Talk about the pitch. What kind of pitch was it?

DAVID ECKSTEIN: I got 'em 2-0. I usually don't swing that much. I was looking for a pitch kind of just over the middle, trying to get a fast ball in. Fortunately enough I was able to get it and put a good swing on it.

Q. For those of us who don't see you day in and day out, how would you assess how you played these three games? Can you be better? Can you be worse?

DAVID ECKSTEIN: We won 'em, that's the main thing. We go out there every single day and the main focus is trying to win the game. I think we did a good job. You've got to give a lot of credit to San Diego. They battle. They came out and they did not let it be easy for us. It's been one of those things down to the last pitch. I mean, when you get three victories off a quality club like that, you're just happy to go out there and get the victories.

Q. How important was it to win Game 3 and not be a point where you're possibly at risk?

DAVID ECKSTEIN: It's very important. Every game can change momentum. Especially after we had that lead, you definitely don't want to lose that lead because in that situation you could end up all of a sudden they come back, then it's a whole new ballgame tomorrow. So it was very important for us to go out there and set the tone early and find a way to get a win.

KATY FEENEY: David, thank you. We have Tony La Russa. Questions for Tony La Russa.

Q. How important was it, every game you got the big lead and held on, how important is it to get that early lead in each of these games?

TONY LA RUSSA: It's always important to score first. Then you score with a couple crooked numbers, I mean, if you pitch and defend, you got a great chance to win it. I mean, each of the three games are so similar because the Padres kept really putting a lot of pressure, a lot of opportunities in the last part of the game. I mean, I had to be sure I checked the score card to make sure we won. It was so close. One at-bat here or there. The series is a lot closer than the 3-0 margin.

Q. With Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder this post-season, how much more well-prepared are you going forward from here than last year maybe when Carpenter was hurt?

TONY LA RUSSA: That's a difficult question because to compliment Mark and Chris, it seems like I'm going to criticize what we had last year, and I would never do that. We had really good pitching last year. It was tough to lose Chris because he was so important. Last year we had Woody. Woody was huge for us. I just separate the two years. I mean, this year having a healthy Chris is very important. You know, Mark's a real force out there. It's two years in a row we've had five starters strong, and that's why we've gotten into the hundred wins.

Q. Certainly don't want to rain on your parade, but you mentioned the Padres comebacks. How do you feel about going forward with your bullpen?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, one of toughest things -- you like to have that tough thing. But when you have than more than just a run or two lead, like a three-run lead, walks a lead-off, that's a no-no, from the bench, I'm saying throw the ball down the middle. We did quite a bit of that. We wanted to challenge them. We got some outs. Got to hit some balls out of the park. They got some base hits. I remember we won three games, so every time, whether it was striking out (Mark) Sweeney in the game before last or the outs that we had to have, even Izzy (Isringhausen) the first time, he strikes out (Ramon) Hernandez. I think we have real confidence in the bullpen. I think it was more trying to be aggressive and give them credit because they took advantage.

Q. Could you talk about the importance of Reggie Sanders, what he did in this whole series. 10 RBIs, new division record.

TONY LA RUSSA: In a short series, that's kind of what you look for. You get a hot hitter or two, a hot pitcher or two, you swing the games. He was big in each game. I don't think he had a meaningless RBI. There was a couple times, I remember the day he hit the ball to the rightfield wall, he hit the ball hard for outs. He really lit it up for us. He was the guy that provided the margin where it wasn't quite as scary. I think Reggie, you know, he fits in. One of the things we believe about our club is that we have a bunch of guys that are prime-timers, they're not afraid to take big at-bats. He's one of them.

Q. Game 1 not till Wednesday night. How will you handle the next few days with your guys?

TONY LA RUSSA: That's a really good question. Today I was kind of thinking about it messing around thinking about it. I was thinking it was too superstitious to think about it, but now we can. I know we're not leaving till tomorrow. Definitely work out Tuesday. What do we do Monday? We've been out of town. My guess is that probably do something optional on Monday. You know, if guys want to come in and get some treatment or work out in the gym or do something on the field. I imagine we'll do something on the field, but it won't be anything mandatory. Now, these guys run the club. If they get on that plane tomorrow and say they want to work out, we'll work out. I just think they probably deserve a little break.

Q. How about your pitching plans? Do you know yet for the NLCS? Will you go back to Carpenter, Mulder, Morris?

DAVID ECKSTEIN: Well, one reason that Dave (Duncan) and I were messing around with not pitching Chris tomorrow on time, we had confidence we could pick another starter and have a chance, even though I was really concerned about hitting against Eaton. But the way it would work out, if we were able to win one of these two, that sets up Chris for the first game, otherwise we lose him till the third game of the championship series. We thought it was a risk worth taking. Chris gets 1, and I think there's a real question where Mulder fits in. Be a little different depending on whether it's Atlanta or Houston. There's a couple match-ups there we like better one way than the other.

KATY FEENEY: Thank you, Tony.

TONY LA RUSSA: All right.

End of FastScripts...

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