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St Louis at Houston 4:19 pm EDT

10/15/2005

St Louis at Houston 4:19 pm EDT
National League Championship Series Series tied 1-1

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- The last time Roger Clemens was on the mound
at Minute Maid Park, he pitched three scoreless innings to get
the Houston Astros into the National League Championship Series.

The future Hall of Famer now tries to give the Astros a lead in
the NLCS when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in a pivotal Game
Three on Saturday.

Clemens (1-1, 5.00 ERA) pitched the final three innings of
Houston's 18-inning, 6-5 series-winning triumph over Atlanta in
Game Four of the NL Division Series on Sunday - the longest
postseason game in major league history.

"The man never ceases to amaze me and I don't say that
jokingly," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "I say it in all
earnest, the look that you saw in his face after he came off in
the second and third, both the second and third innings that he
pitched was total resolve."

The 43-year-old's performance made amends for his Game Two
outing when he was rocked for five runs in six innings in
Houston's only loss of the series.

The last time Clemens, who led the majors with a 1.87 ERA, faced
St. Louis in the playoffs was in Game Seven of last year's NLCS
when he yielded four runs in six innings in the Cardinals' 5-2
triumph to send them to the World Series.

Houston enters this year's middle three games at Minute Maid
Park on equal footing with St. Louis. Last year, the Cardinals
had a 2-0 advantage before the Astros won the three contests
here.

"Obviously last year, you had the stigma of them winning all
four games in their ballpark last year," Garner said. "Now the
fact that we've won a ballgame there, you feel that, hey, it's
possible we can. We know it and they know it now, so I think
that's a plus on our side."

A similar result would put Houston in the World Series for the
first time in franchise history.

Matt Morris (1-0, 3.00) will be on the hill for St. Louis in his
first postseason game here. The righthander did not factor in
the decision of either of his two playoff outings against the
Astros last year, both Cardinals' wins at Busch Stadium.

Morris has not pitched since Sunday's 7-4 win in Game Three at
San Diego to complete the NLDS sweep for St. Louis. He allowed
two runs and five hits in six innings - surrendering no hits in
the first 4 2/3 innings.

"I'm familiar with the atmosphere," said Morris, who is 5-5 in
11 games - 10 starts - at Minute Maid Park. "I'm sure the bees
will be buzzing and the crowd, the noise level is pretty loud.
... If I can go out there and put up some zeros and we get to
(Clemens) early, that's our best chance."

Of paramount importance to St. Louis is the health of Reggie
Sanders, who injured his back late in Thursday's 4-1 loss in
Game Two. Sanders has been the Cardinals' best hitter during
the postseason, with a .333 batting average, two homers and 12
RBI.

"He's doing better than we expected," Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa said. "He's up, he's moving around, I think we've got a
chance for him to be in tomorrow. He's getting treatment and
he's going to go out there and do a little bit, I think he's
going to hit. But it's better than a lot of us expected."