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October 18, 2004

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Tony LaRUSSA.

Q. What kind of factor do you think momentum is in a series like this? What kind of dramatic impact do you think a game like this would have?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, that's what I've heard before. They had a lot of momentum coming in this game. They didn't score until the ninth. It's all about the starting pitcher starting it off, and then the offense gets going. Means they've gotten to three before we did. Now we have to go home and get the crowd to give us a boost and find a way to win the next game we play.

Q. Would you please speak to both starting pitchers' performances?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, Backe was outstanding. I mean, that was -- I think he made a lot of great pitches. I think Ausmus mixes things up. You never knew for sure what was next. Just an outstanding piece of pitching. Woody (Williams) was just as outstanding. He actually strained his calf running to first base first time up there. We didn't know if he could pitch inning to inning. He ends up giving us seven. You're not supposed to use the word "hero" in sports, but that was a heroic performance with his calf bothering him the way it was. That was two starting pitchers that were terrific.

Q. When you go through a game like that, is there a shock factor and does it help to have tomorrow off?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, it's a little shocking. The way you got to think in those games, some way, somehow we're going to break through, we're going to break through. It's going to be our game. We've done too much to lose it. Great defense. On the other side, they were doing the same thing. So top of the ninth was a big one. We had the top of our lineup, then they had 2 through the rest of them. So we couldn't push it across, and they did.

Q. At what point during the Berkman at-bat did you decide to walk him?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, when I went to the mound, didn't try - I didn't want him worrying so much about a stolen base as he gave Berkman a cookie. I said if the guy steals second, we're going to go after Kent. You have the double play in order. Berkman is swinging the bat too well.

Q. It's been such a home run series. How much did you personally appreciate the defense on both sides?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I'm such a rabid Cardinal fan; I appreciate our defense more than I appreciate theirs. But it was really a well-played game, well-pitched game. Brutal ending.

Q. After a game like today, is an off-day a welcome chance just to get away maybe?

TONY LaRUSSA: I mean, I think we're going to be anxious to play. I don't even think in those terms. Schedule says we're off, we're off. If we were playing tomorrow, we'd be ready to go. Like I say, I think we're looking forward to getting home. I'm sure our fans will be ready to support us. All we have to do is win Wednesday.

Q. That the 2-2 count on Berkman, any consideration of letting Izzy (Isringhausen) complete the at-bat, or with the stolen base was it no decision at all?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, as I said when I made the trip to the mound, we set it up. Izzy goes 2-2, he's not going to give him anything to hit. He's going to play around with the edges of the strike zone. Suppose it bounces and that guy goes to third. You're better off not trying to get too cute. He threw a cutter, got it up a little bit, hit it in the seats. If he got it down, maybe it was a double-play ball.

Q. What's the strategy now that you're going back to St. Louis?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, it's real simple; we're going to rely on what we've had all year long as far as a ball team with pitching, defense and scoring runs. We're going to play at home. We have to win Wednesday.

Q. Do you like your chances going back?

TONY LaRUSSA: There hasn't been one situation this team faced where I haven't liked our chances. I really like the club. I know we'll be ready Wednesday. We understand that we have to win the game to play on Thursday. So, yeah, I like our chances and I love our club.

End of FastScripts...

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