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Cardinals-Pirates notebook: No rah-rah speech from Matheny

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- The way Mike Matheny figures it, if what the team did was good enough to get to this point, why do anything different now?

So the St. Louis Cardinals manager, whose team faced the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium, wasn't planning any fiery oration to rouse the troops.

"When the guys are going about it the right way, when they're preparing and they're absolutely fighting, you want them to just keep going that way," Matheny said. "As far as the big get-together and me trying to motivate, they're already motivated."

St. Louis proved the past three years that it doesn't need a break-through-the-door pregame speech with a season on the line. The Cardinals began the night 7-1 in elimination games, including Monday's 2-1 win in Pittsburgh that forced Game 5.

"There's a lot of urgency tonight, so we don't rule out anything," Matheny said. "We've got a game plan going in, and you're going to have to probably be able to move a lot quicker if things don't look like they're following the plan."

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Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle opted to leave the top of his lineup intact for Game 5 despite the fact that Starling Marte and Neil Walker were not produced during the postseason.

Marte was 3-for-20 (.150), including a homer in Game 2 to finish the scoring in the Pirates' 7-1 win. Walker was 2-for-21 (.095) with an RBI. Walker's slump was surprising because many scouts thought he was taking the best swings on the team at season's end.

"The longer you go without a hit, the better chances are you'll get one," Hurdle said. "So mathematically, these guys are due. I believe our best effort is to go give men this opportunity to have success."

Hurdle kept the rest of his Game 4 lineup intact, including Clint Barmes in the No. 8 spot at shortstop. That might be a vote for Barmes' steadier defense in a game in which offense figured to be at a premium.

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NOTES: St. Louis started rookie Pete Kozma at shortstop over Daniel Descalso. Kozma is a superior fielder but was outhitting Descalso in the series, going 3-for-6 to Descalso's 0-for-8. ... Hurdle said all of his pitchers would be available for Wednesday night's game except Monday's starter, RHP Charlie Morton, and veteran RHP A.J. Burnett. Hurdle said Burnett would be held back to start Game 1 of the NL Championship Series in Los Angeles on Friday night should the Pirates advance. ... Matheny said all of his pitchers could work if necessary except for RHP Michael Wacha, Game 4 winner, and RHP Joe Kelly, the Game 3 starter. If the Cardinals win Wednesday night, Kelly is a candidate to start Game 1 against the Dodgers in Busch Stadium on Friday.
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