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October 14, 2004

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Tony.

Q. A huge night for Scott Rolen?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, that's huge like most of the season, everybody got a chance to see he was so clutch all year long, and this is about as clutch as you can get.

Q. You're talking about clutch. Albert (Pujols) has been coming through, it seems time and again, with big home runs for you guys.

TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, you mention home run, but he comes -- he's just a really good hitter. He starts rallies with singles, doubles. I mean, what you see so far in the postseason, he's had four years of that.

Q. Could you talk about your defense. A number of plays stand out - Albert with a one-handed play, Mike (Matheny), Reggie (Sanders).

TONY LaRUSSA: I just look at it, it wasn't just one inning where we went one, two, three. Every inning we were trying not to let the game get away from us. Whole bunch of times our pitchers made pitches but our defense was very solid. Even the routine plays, wet grass. I saw Edgar (Renteria) had a bunch of ground balls, he fielded cleanly and threw accurately. The play Reggie made, I'm still trying to figure that out. Vizcaino is an outstanding runner. Albert in a wet infield makes a throw. Our guys like to play defense. They really enjoy it. That's good, it complements pitching and it's a good way to win.

Q. Would you assess Matt Morris' performance tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I give him a huge passing grade. There are games where it's just not easy. If you look at the way guys got on base, he competed. A little bit of damage against him, three runs, there was so much more out there. I thought he was -- that he was real good and deserves a tremendous amount of credit.

Q. You've been around these guys all year. Some of them, several years. Are you still amazed by some of the things they do in clutch situations?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I don't like the word "amazed." It sounds like you didn't think enough, you know it's possible. Just routinely impressed, I guess. I mean, these -- we've had a heck of a regular season, and we've had heroics like that up and down the lineup, big dramatic hits, a lot of dramatic defense, some base-running that is really Major League caliber. I mean, the everyday team is a lot of fun to watch, they play outstanding baseball. Got a lot of compliments from scouts, managers I know, coaches. But I'm going to be sure and tell you that the club we're playing plays a very similar game, and that's why nobody's celebrating. I think about going into their place, they haven't lost but one game in a month. So we've got a lot ahead of us.

Q. Does that make it even more important to have gotten off to this 2-0 start at home?

TONY LaRUSSA: You have to get four. We open at home, you earn that advantage, so it's nice to get the two. We were getting ready for anything. We lost two, we were going to get four of the next five. But we've taken care of the home field advantage, but, I mean, there's nobody whooping it up in that dugout or that clubhouse. I mean, we're going into a tough place to play against a very good team. Like I said a couple of times already, absolutely no doubt in my mind we'll be ready to play.

Q. Can you talk a little about Kiko Calero, the way he was able to get Steve Kline out of trouble and about how he's come back from his injury last year and been so effective for you.

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, for a team, that was a big blow to us last year. We lost him. He really can do a lot of things, pitch in a lot of different situations, a lot of different type of hitters. With the injury, we really had our doubts. I didn't know if he could pitch at all, if he would late in the season, when he went into spring training. It was hard for us to believe that he was that healthy. When he came, we sent him out for a little while, brought him back, he's really done a great job. Like today, I think -- I always look at winter ball, all these Latin American pitchers and players, they face more pressure down there in winter ball than they do in this series. They're used to it. In Puerto Rico, Kiko has been groomed for situations like that just because down there, if you don't do well, every neighbor, family, friend, you're going to hear it for days. So he's very good in the clutch. But I give him credit, they got a run against him in the seventh. Berkman got it started, Ensberg got the hit. That's what I mean, we're playing a very good team.

End of FastScripts...

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