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October 10, 2001

Albert Pujols

Woody Williams


Q. When everybody came to the mound to check on your well-being, what was wrong?

WOODY WILLIAMS: I kind of strained my right groin a little bit, but by no means was I ready to come out of the game.

Q. What were you proudest of today, Woody? The way you pitched? The way you played defense? Or the way you hit?

WOODY WILLIAMS: I was most proud about the way my teammates supported me and the way they gave me the confidence to go out there and let me know it wasn't all on my shoulders. And a big home run in the first inning by Albert took the pressure off right there.

Q. Albert, did you come into this treating it like any other game, or did you feel the magnitude of it?

ALBERT PUJOLS: We play 162 games, and it's a little more pressure. But I just try to do the best I can to help my team like I have all year long. Nothing has changed, I'm doing the best I can. When you have guys like Woody right now, you get runs early in the game. So we can take the pressure off of him.

Q. Woody, you've been a good pitcher in your career. But in St. Louis you've been a phenomenal pitcher. What has been the difference? What has enabled you to take it to that next level?

WOODY WILLIAMS: Well, there is a combination of a few things. One is preparation and the knowledge of Dave Duncan, the way he prepares me and lets me know what I can and can't do in certain situations. But like I say, I'll stress it every time, I look back there and seeing the guys behind me, seeing the defense they play and how aggressive they are, it helped out. When you get early runs for a starting pitcher, it makes all the difference in the world, like Albert just alluded to.

Q. Would you talk about the pitching strategy your team has taken against Luis Gonzalez?

WOODY WILLIAMS: The main thing is not to leave anything over the plate. He is a strong and dangerous pitcher, like their whole lineup. But he is the one player we can't afford to let him beat us by any means. We have to concentrate on each and every pitch.

Q. Albert, go back to that first inning at-bat, including what you were thinking at the plate?

ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, just try to be aggressive like I've been all year long, just try to look for my pitch and just hit the ball hard somewhere. That's what I do when I go out there. I don't try for power, just do the best I can with the pitch.

Q. Woody, since you've come to the Cardinals, have you added any pitches, changed any mechanics?

WOODY WILLIAMS: I've added a slider, which has helped with right-handed hitters. Today I gave up hits on it. I wasn't able to throw where I wanted it. But even if I don't throw it for a strike, it allows me to come back in on right-handers, and it's helped. That's a pitch Marty and Dave has taught me. It's always been righties that gave me the fits. I've felt comfortable with left-handed batters.

Q. Coming in here facing Johnson and Schilling, was it the idea to get a split and go home?

WOODY WILLIAMS: After yesterday's game, we sensed the urgency to make sure we did everything we could to try to win today's game. Yesterday, Schilling pitched an outstanding game. And by no means was Randy Johnson horrible today. Two of the best pitchers I've ever seen and I ever will see, and we're very fortunate to get out of here with a split.

Q. Can you tell us what it feels like to go head-to-head against Randy Johnson in a playoff Game 2?

WOODY WILLIAMS: Randy Johnson or whoever, it just feels -- for me it's a dream come true to pitch in post-season, it's pretty much the only thing. I haven't accomplished a whole lot, but that's the thing that meant the most to me. I thank God for the opportunity to get out there and pitch. It made it extra special since I know Randy a little bit. He's a great competitor, and like I say, he didn't pitch a bad game. I tip my hat to him too. They are a great team.

Q. Albert, did you feel like you had a chance to hit a homer (inaudible)?

ALBERT PUJOLS: I hit a good swing. That was my pitch. I think it was a fastball. I didn't try to do too much, just put a good swing on it, pretty much. I know I hit it well enough to go out of the park.

Q. Woody, could you talk about what this experience has been like going from a team that didn't have any chance in the playoffs to being where you are?

WOODY WILLIAMS: It's hard to put it in words. It's such an emotional roller coaster, going from not having a chance that much in San Diego to the way having to go through things right now and being a down time, to being, in my mind, in one of the best organizations in baseball, fan wise, front office wise, and teammates are outstanding. And as a player and as a pitcher that's been through what I've been through, I couldn't ask for anything better or more.

Q. Mark Grace said you were unhittable today. You had all four pitches going. Was there anything special you had?

WOODY WILLIAMS: I think the main thing that's been going the last six weeks or so for me is just control and being able to spot my fastball. I consider myself a fastball pitcher, believe it or not. I don't have the radar readings like most of these guys, but everything I do goes off my fastball and I'm able to work ahead in the count or throw a certain spot when I'm behind in the count. That helps me do pretty much whatever I want.

End of FastScripts....

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