Nunez ready for Game 6

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals third baseman Abraham Nunez is expected to be back in the starting lineup tonight for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series after missing two games with a deep left thigh bruise.

"He worked out, I watched some of it," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday. "Unless I go in there and find out something that wasn't obvious, I expect him to start."

Nunez was injured during Game 3 on Saturday in a jarring collision while playing in the field. Houston's Jason Lane slid into third and his knee crushed the leg of Nunez, who was coming off the bag to field Larry Walker's throw from right field. Nunez was spun to the ground and had to be helped off the field.

During the Cardinals' optional workout at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, Nunez took ground balls and batting practice.

"I tried to do everything at game speed to see how I'd do. I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent ready to go," Nunez said. "It's pretty loose, and it's not sore."

Nunez said "it's up to the boss" if he's playing.

In six postseason games, Nunez has hit .381 (8-of-21) with four runs scored and three RBIs.

Front-row seat

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has been in the dugout for two of the most stunning home runs in postseason history.

La Russa was managing the Oakland Athletics when a hobbling Kirk Gibson connected off Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And, of course, La Russa was there to greet Albert Pujols with a hug after his three-run shot saved St. Louis' season Monday night and sent the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory at Houston in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.

"I think my first understanding of the significance of Gibson's home run is the drama of what he did that day, as hurt as he was, that being his only at-bat. And if you saw him foul those pitches off and how gimpy he was, it was an incredibly heroic kind of at-bat, if you can use hero in sports," La Russa said.

"But I think beyond that performance, they won the world championship," he added, "and that's made it one of the greatest at-bats of all-time, and that's why I think unless we can get another couple of wins, it won't be as great of a story."

St. Louis was one out from elimination when Pujols homered in the ninth inning off All-Star closer Brad Lidge, who had dominated the Cardinals for the past few years.

Noteworthy

* Cardinals outfielder John Rodriguez thinks the Astros celebrate too much. Most of Houston's team was on the field after a game-ending double play in Game 4 on Sunday. Rodriguez agreed it was an impressive play, "but just the way they were jumping around, it was like they were going to the World Series. Don't count your chickens because all of them might not be hatched."

* Houston is 0-5 in potential NLCS-clinching games.

* Albert Pujols has seven homers in NLCS games, second-most to Steve Garvey's eight.

* Before St. Louis won 5-4 on Monday, the Cardinals had lost seven straight postseason road games.

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