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[ DIVISION SERIES PREVIEW ]
TOM VERDUCCI
October 10, 2005
National League
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October 10, 2005

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National League

St. Louis Cardinals versus San Diego Padres

KEY POINTS St. Louis's bullpen has the best ERA of any postseason team (3.22).... San Diego made the most errors of any NL playoff team (109).... The Padres won the season series 4--3.... Cards manager Tony La Russa ordered the fewest intentional walks of any NL manager. He likes playing matchup with relievers; lefty specialist Ray King will be used against Brian Giles and Ryan Klesko in late-inning spots.

KEY MATCHUP Padres ace Jake Peavy has held Cardinals rightfielder Larry Walker to one hit in 15 at bats.

KEY PLAYER Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. He was as automatic as any NL pitcher for five months (21--4, 2.21 on Sept. 8) but hit a wall down the stretch (0--1, 9.14). He has never appeared in a postseason game.

KEY STAT San Diego was the only team in the majors without a 20-home-run hitter this season; Klesko led the team with 18.

BOTTOM LINE Cardinals in four.

Atlanta Braves versus Houston Astros

KEY POINTS Andy Pettitte is the hottest pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break (11--2, 1.69).... Andruw Jones ended the season in a 6-for-51 rut, with one home run.... Atlanta's bullpen ranked 22nd (4.66 ERA).... The Braves are 13--17 in the postseason at Turner Field.... The Astros are the first team since the 1914 Braves to make the postseason after being 15 games below .500 (15--30 on May 24).... Astros manager Phil Garner likes to flick the switch early for closer Brad (Lights Out) Lidge, who is available for six-out saves.

KEY MATCHUP Jones is 0 for 7 (five K's) against Lidge.

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