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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mind Games Rule Before NL Faceoff


ATLANTA -- Even on an off day in the National League championship series, the games kept going between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. The psychological games, that is.

Without much prompting, and peppering his comments with more profanity than usual, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa took off on the Braves during practice Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

"The only one that really bothers me is the one that's coming out today at their getting upset at our emotion,'' La Russa said, a day after Atlanta's 14-0 romp cut the Cardinals' edge to 3-2. "I've always admired their ability to handle things well, but it surprised me some.

"I watched their celebration. They shook hands quietly, patted each other on the back. They want to be what they want to be? Fine, we'll be the way we want to be. We're not getting on them for being real cool, and I don't want to hear this about us being too emotional.''

Perturbed? Probably. Looking for an emotional edge? Clearly.

La Russa did the same thing before the series started, pouncing on an innocent remark by Atlanta's Chipper Jones about how the Dodgers were the team the Braves really feared in the playoffs.

Then again, La Russa surely was looking for something after Monday night's rout.

Game 6 is Wednesday night in Atlanta, with four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux starting for the Braves. If they win, 1995 World Series MVP Tom Glavine would follow in Game 7.

While Maddux and Glavine are set up to pitch on their regular four days of rest, La Russa might be leaning toward changing his rotation to give his tired pitchers a break. Rookie Alan Benes may get the start in Game 6, pushing Donovan Osborne back to a possible Game 7.

Todd Stottlemyre, pushed up to work on three days' rest for the first time since July 1995, was pounded for nine hits by the 12 batters he faced.

One certain switch for the Braves -- Javy Lopez, coming off a four-hit, four-run game, will start instead of Maddux's personal catcher, Eddie Perez.

Maddux was not at Atlanta's optional workout at home Tuesday. But the Braves who attended had only nice things to say about the Cardinals.

"These guys are real good. We knew that,'' said second baseman Mark Lemke, who also had four hits in Game 5. "I don't know what anybody else said, but we knew how good they are.''

Shortly after that 14-0 trouncing, matching the biggest rout in postseason history, Braves general manager John Schuerholz chided the Cardinals, who had 20 cases of champagne on ice for a clincher.

"They got pretty excited when they won three games, and maybe winning three games is exciting, but they still make you win four,'' Schuerholz said. "All we heard all day long is about how they were going to celebrate. Well, they made a big mistake if they thought we were just going to curl up and go away.''

The winners of the NCLS will face the Yankees who are making their record 34th trip to the World Series after closing out the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 Sunday to win the ALCS by four games to one.

The Yankees will be making their first trip to the World Series since losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the 1981 classic.

The individual who waited the longest for a trip to baseball's showcase is Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Torre, who starred as a player for both the Cardinals and Braves and also later managed both teams, has participated in 4,272 games as a player and manager and this will be his first World Series. )