ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- After winning his first playoff series,
Barry Bonds continues his pursuit of a title on Wednesday when
the San Francisco Giants face the St. Louis Cardinals in Game
One of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.
Bonds is among the elite players ever to play baseball but is
trying to avoid ending his career as the best never to appear in
the World Series. He moved one step closer to that goal when
the Giants defeated the Braves in the first round.
It was the first time Bonds won a playoff series and the first
time San Francisco advanced in the postseason since 1989, when
it went to the World Series before losing to the Oakland
Bonds entered the Atlanta series with a .196 career postseason
average. He went 5-for-17 with three homers against the Braves
and his solo homer in Game Five proved to be the decisive run.
Bonds has singled twice in six career at-bats against Matt
Morris, who takes the mound for St. Louis in Game One.
"Obviously, you don't want to throw him anything too close to
the plate where he can do some damage," Morris said. "It seemed
like every pitch he's getting that's around the plate he's
putting it into the seats. In a playoff situation, you don't
want to let him beat you. If he gets up with runners on and I
have an opportunity to pitch around him, that's what I'm going
to do, because he's earned that respect."
The Cardinals swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round,
limiting the defending champions to only six runs and 18 hits
in three games.
Fernando Vina hit .600 (9-for-13) and Albert Pujols drove in
three runs in the series. St. Louis may be without third baseman
Scott Rolen, who sprained his left shoulder in Game Two of the
Division Series when he collided with Arizona pinch-runner Alex
"He's got more flexibility and mobility in his shoulder than he
did (Monday), which is a lot more than (Saturday)," St. Louis
manager Tony La Russa said. "There are decisions still to be
made. It's really a tough call."
The Cardinals would receive a boost from the return of Rolen,
who has six hits and four RBI in his last 16 at-bats against San
Francisco's Game One starter Kirk Rueter.
Morris (1-0, 1.29 ERA) outpitched Cy Young Award favorite Randy
Johnson in Game One of the NLDS, when he allowed two runs - one
earned - and seven hits in seven innings. He improved to 1-1
with a 1.62 ERA in seven career postseason appearances.
Morris made two relief appearances in the 2000 NLCS against the
New York Mets and gave up two runs and three hits in 3 2/3
The 28-year-old righthander is 4-2 with a 1.59 ERA in eight
career appearances against the Giants, including seven starts.
The Giants hand the ball to Rueter for Wednesday's series
Rueter has been an excellent road pitcher during his career but
that did not help him in Game Two of the Division Series, when
he gave up seven runs - six earned - in three innings at Turner
"I'm going to have games like that," he said. "I'm going to give
up balls that are hit and I let my defense play. In that game,
the balls just found the holes, so I'm not going to try and
change too much going into this start."
The 32-year-old southpaw, who has never pitched in the League
Championship Series, is 0-1 with a 4.39 ERA in three career
"Kirk is probably one of the better competitors that I've been
around," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "He loves to compete.
I know he puts a little bit of pressure on himself."
Rueter is is 9-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 21 lifetime starts against
St. Louis. He won his only starts against the Cardinals this
season, giving up just two unearned runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Rueter, who grew up as a Cardinals fan in Nashville, Illinois,
is 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA in nine career outings at Busch Stadium.
"It's just one of those things," he said. "I just come and I
feel comfortable here. I've faced great Cardinal teams over the
years, even when I was with Montreal. I can't pinpoint one thing
or another why I've pitched good here."
Except for Rolen, none of St. Louis regulars have better than a
.270 career average against Rueter. Edgar Renteria is batting
.261 (6-for-23), Jim Edmonds .250 (5-for-20), Vina .148
(4-for-27), and Mike Matheny .227 (5-for-22).
The Cardinals won four of six meetings with the Giants this
season, but Bonds did not play in three of those games.
"(The Cardinals) have a well-balanced attack," Baker said. "We
met them at a period when we were the most banged up for the
year. It's not hard to assess that they have a very good team.
It would be a little more difficult to assess them because we
have not played them since they added Scott Rolen, and I don't
know if he's going to be available or not."