2001 MLB Postseason - Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks

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Ace in the hole

D'backs will have well-rested Schilling for possible Game 5

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Posted: Friday October 12, 2001 7:55 PM
Updated: Saturday October 13, 2001 1:59 AM
  Curt Schilling With Tuesday's Game 1 shutout, Curt Schilling improved to 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five postseason starts. AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson can rest after all.

The Arizona Diamondbacks were toying with the idea of bringing their ace pitchers back on three days rest if they faced elimination in the National League Division Series against St. Louis.

But the Diamondbacks rallied for a 5-3 victory Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Albie Lopez (9-19) will pitch Saturday in Game 4 and Schilling, who threw a three-hit shutout in Game 1 on Tuesday will start Game 5, if needed, on Sunday in Arizona.

Manager Bob Brenly said both Schilling and Johnson, who lost in Game 2, have altered their between-starts routines so they could both come back early if needed.

"It's just a gut feeling more than anything else," Brenly said Friday night before Game 3. "The way Schilling has pitched this season on regular rest, and Randy for that matter, I hesitate to make the change for either one of them.

"But extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures and if that's something we have to do, we'll be willing to do that."

Schilling said Friday he was preparing to pitch on Saturday. Of course, he'd rather the Diamondbacks win the series in four games without him.

"You guys make it an issue," Schilling said. "If you think physically it's going to be a problem, it will be.

"If you don't think about it, you don't think about it."

Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: "That'd be the only way I'd love to face Curt Schilling, us up two games to one."

Schilling worked on three or fewer days' rest twice. The first time was June 21 at Colorado, and he allowed three runs in six innings and got a no-decision in a 5-4, 10-inning victory. He came back on two days' rest July 21 after pitching two innings in a suspended game.

Johnson pitched on three days' rest July 18 at San Diego, striking out 16 in seven innings in the completion of a suspended game.

La Russa said Thursday, the travel day, that he would not consider using 22-game winner Matt Morris on three days' rest on Saturday. Rookie left-hander Bud Smith is the scheduled starter.

"For our pitchers, the kind of season it's been, we would not feel smart, comfortable, whatever," La Russa said. "Bringing those guys back short -- would not do it."

Lopez was 4-7 with a 4.00 ERA in 13 starts with the Diamondbacks after being acquired July 25 from Tampa Bay.

"He's had his ups and downs," Brenly said. "But he finished as good as any pitcher on our staff. His last couple of starts were outstanding.

"He gave us exactly what we thought we were going to get when we made the trade for him."

The Cardinals had Craig Paquette hitting sixth instead of Mark McGwire, who batted .187 this season and also sat in Game 2. Paquette was among the league leaders with a .372 average with runners in scoring position.

"We can be more creative with him because he's got good legs and can handle the bat," La Russa said.

Brenly had a slightly altered lineup Friday, inserting Danny Bautista in the cleanup slot and moving Matt Williams, 0-for-7 with three strikeouts, down to sixth.

"The majority of the second half, every time we put Danny in the lineup it energized the entire ballclub," Brenly said. "Something good happened."

Craig Counsell, who batted seventh the first two games, and Steve Finley, who batted second, were flip-flopped. Brenly took Finley out when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went to a left-handed reliever in Game 2.

"Rather than worry about the moves Tony's going to make, we're just going to put the lineup out there that we feel has the best chance," Brenly said.

Related information
Cardinals-Diamondbacks at a Glance
Jeff Pearlman's Breakdown: Diamondbacks vs. Cardinals
SI's Cannella: Williams carries Cards again
Cardinals have one more ace up their sleeve
Counsell lifts D'backs to 2-1 NLDS lead
Pitching moves backfire on La Russa
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