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October 5, 2011

Tony La Russa


Cardinals – 5
Phillies - 3

Q. How clutch would you say the two hits from David (Freese) were tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: Huge. Oswalt was throwing the ball really, really well, and you get four runs on two swings: one a curveball and one a fastball. We had a lot of difference-makers: Edwin (Jackson) settling down. The play that Albert (Pujols) made was huge at the time.

Q. If you could, can you expound on the play Albert made and the decision to go to third base?
TONY LA RUSSA: We talk about it all the time, that -- tell people he's a great player. And the way you're best doing it is just to explain actual things that he does that are great. He does it with base running, like that rundown he did in Philadelphia. His defense is great. He's always got an awareness of what the score is, and that was classic, and that's part of his greatness. He plays the whole game in a great way.

Q. Last night you expressed supreme confidence that your team would come out tonight and go about this the right way. Now that they did and now that it ended in a victory, what would you say about your team?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, I wasn't making anything up because I've just seen them do it. I mean, we've been playing literally for -- I won't count the games, but we just -- seventh game of the World Series, last game of your life, whatever you want to use, and the urgency has been there and the effort and they're enjoying doing it. Guys on the bench are doing it, guys that play, everybody is playing. You lose a tough game, there's no doubt that that's our style now.
It'll be that way Friday, too. You know, that's what's so nice about the post-season. You can put that urgency because it really is there. If you don't win three games, you go home. But during the season we had a lot of ups and downs, lost some tough games, next day ready to play. That's what this club is.

Q. I was looking at Jackson's stats and stuff, and sort of historically the first inning has not been his best inning. Can you just talk about his ability to get it back together there and basically shut them down for the next five, six innings?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's got a lot of weapons. In fact, both clubs do. During the game everybody is hunting fastballs, they got two, we got one, and right away both pitchers and catchers started mixing in a lot of off-speed stuff, and that's why it became tougher and tougher to score. But Jackson has got the ability to -- he threw change-ups, he threw big breaking balls, smaller breaking balls. In fact, if you want to have something that's Major League plus, you watch the two catchers in the series. The way they handle pitching, those guys are really good. And that was the difference, both catchers. Yadi for our guy and Ruiz for their guy, just started mixing things up, and then it was much fun.

Q. Back on David Freese, he had struck out in four of his six at-bats prior to that, but as a case of sticking with it, much like the team, I guess?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, truth is that we got together as a staff, and we talked about key parts. There was a question about Holliday, and just to make sure you're crossing all your T's there, we discussed whether it should be Freese or Descalso because Descalso has done a really good job. We know what David Freese is. This guy is a really tough competitor and he wipes the slate clean. I'm not saying that -- ask any of the coaches that were in that meeting. The vote was for David because we knew David was going to take a really tough at-bat, whether he strikes or whatever. That's just what he is.

Q. I know you've talked about it before, the Toronto trade, but those guys and the way they played tonight, is that kind of how you drew it up?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I didn't draw it. The gentleman that made the trade was John Mozeliak. He's the guy, he talked to the coaches, the stuff about what our needs were, then he talked to the scouts. I mean, he pieced it all together. And then he would say, hey, we're close to this or that and then we were excited he could pull something off. He was deep into our club in all the areas that we were struggling.

Q. Lohse beat Halladay down the stretch of the regular season, and then you guys took a 3-0 lead in Game 1, so you're getting close. What are some of the keys to breaking through in Game 5?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I said it the second game there, just because I'm a baseball fan as much as anybody, what a thrill it would be to go back to Philadelphia and see Carp and Halladay go at each other. They've got so much common history and they're both great pitchers, great competitors, and now we're going to do it. It's going to be as good as it gets. We're looking forward to being there and trying our best. And they are so close, they both have a lot of weapons. You can see each of those guys four times and they'll give you something different all four times.
Halladay is every bit as good as his record and his awards and all that, but Carp is in that same category.

Q. Kind of along the same lines, Charlie Manuel praised your club. He also said he thought it was a really good series. He thinks it's fitting it's going to go to Game 5. Do you concur with that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I concur. I think it shows how competitive it's been. I said that day in Houston, as long as we're not playing them, the Phillies -- because they're so professional, the coaches, the managers are professional, the players are professional. It's really fun to compete against somebody at that high level because they're going to do things that are championship-like and you try to compete with them, so it's been a fun series. Having it go five is a good statement about how good they are and how good we've stepped up. But I appreciate that compliment, and we feel the same way about them.

Q. I wonder if you could expound a little more on David because there doesn't appear to be any secret when he's going well, he's going to center field, he's going to right. I wonder with you and with Mark (McGwire) if it's a conscious effort to keep him going that way because it seems like all his big hits are either to center field or to right.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I'd be careful because the first big hit was down the left field line. This question is better addressed by Mark. He's the hitting coach. Mike Aldrete also spends a lot of time.
The thing about David that makes his such a big run-producer now than in his whole career is he plays left center, right center, and he can take the ball inside and pull it. And he can hit the ball outside and hit it to right field. That's what all the really good hitters -- you might get him, but he's capable of making the adjustment. And as he gets more experience, he's going to be a hellacious winning player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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