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Morris May Not Get Full Rest

Times Staff Writers

Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa did not announce his rotation plans Friday beyond Game 1 starter Woody Williams, but it appears right-hander Matt Morris will start Game 2 Sunday night in Fenway Park on three days’ rest.

Morris started Game 6 of the National League championship series Wednesday night but threw only 80 pitches, giving up three runs on five hits in five innings of the Cardinals’ 6-4 12-inning victory over Houston.

Moving Morris up would enable St. Louis to start its hottest pitcher, right-hander Jeff Suppan, in Game 3 Tuesday night in Busch Stadium instead of Wednesday night. The Cardinals would then have Suppan available to start Game 7, if necessary, on normal rest.

Suppan pitched in the Cardinals’ division series-clinching win over the Dodgers, and gave up only one earned run and three hits and struck out six in six innings of St. Louis’ pennant-clinching victory over the Astros. He was 10-1 on the road during the regular season.

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Jason Marquis, who has a 7.36 earned-run average in two playoff starts, probably will start Game 4.

With the designated hitter available to the Cardinals in the American League park, La Russa said he probably would start a right-handed hitter against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. The most likely candidate is Reggie Sanders, with So Taguchi starting in left field.

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Wakefield, who threw the last pitch of the 2003 season for the Red Sox -- Aaron Boone hit it into the left-field seats at Yankee Stadium -- will throw the first of the 2004 World Series for them.

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Pedro Martinez could have started Game 1 on regular rest, but Manager Terry Francona chose Wakefield, whose only flaw is the unpredictability of the pitch he throws.

The knuckleball is a capricious weapon, part unhittable and part uncatchable. Generally, baseball folks become queasy with the pitch come playoff time, because the games are volatile enough without things changing in midair.

Wakefield pitched three times against the Yankees in the American League championship series, and the results speak for the pitch. He gave up two runs in an inning in Game 1, five runs in 3 1/3 innings in Game 3, and no runs in three innings in Game 5, when catcher Jason Varitek was charged with three passed balls.

So, now the St. Louis Cardinals get their stab at it, two nights after facing Roger Clemens.

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“You can’t prepare for that,” said Kevin Millar, Wakefield’s teammate. “You just hope he’s not on. You hope he shaved his fingernails a little lower.”

Tony Womack, the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter, said he would keep it simple.

“You gotta see it and hit it,” he said. “If it’s high, let it fly. If it’s low, let it go.”

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Boston backup catcher Doug Mirabelli had one at-bat in the postseason and caught a couple of innings late in the Yankees’ 19-8 win in Game 3, but he is expected to start tonight against the Cardinals because of his familiarity with Wakefield.

But, with Mirabelli’s defense, they’ll lose Varitek’s bat. He batted .321 against the Yankees and often hit behind David Ortiz in the order.

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Derek Lowe, dropped from the Red Sox’s starting rotation on the eve of the postseason and a month from free agency, will start Game 4 based on the six taut innings he threw against the Yankees in Game 7.

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The assignment was a surprise.

Bronson Arroyo, who fell from the rotation as a result, said Lowe approached him on the team flight from New York early Thursday morning and asked, “What game are you starting?”

Arroyo’s response: “You’re starting Game 4, and I’m in the ‘pen. You kidding?”

Asked whether he had “redeemed” himself in the playoffs, Lowe said, “I would hope.”

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“It’s a crazy game,” he said. “In the playoffs, you go with the hot guys. Coming into the playoffs, I was cold as you could get.”

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On his day off, Francona went ... swimming.

“I swim occasionally, just to -- you’ve seen this body, you don’t get a body like this by luck,” he explained, laughing.

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Times have changed: In 1967, the year the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in the World Series, the winner’s share was $7,100. Friday on EBay, four box seats for Game 1 in Fenway Park tonight sold for $7,500.

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Prosecutors dropped charges against Paul Williams, a Fenway Park groundskeeper who got into a bullpen brawl with two former Yankees during last year’s playoffs.

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Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia are scheduled to go to trial next week on assault charges.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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