Rainout gives La Russa, Cards needed break

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols watches during the

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols watches during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers. (Oct. 24, 2011) (Credit: AP )

ST. LOUIS -- As if Tony La Russa hasn't seen enough of Ron Washington during this World Series, the Cardinals' manager said he planned to take advantage of Wednesday night's's Game 6 rainout to finally watch "Moneyball."

Washington was the A's third-base coach during those years, so he pops up in one memorable scene -- or at least the actor playing him does -- when they discuss moving Scott Hatteberg from behind the plate to first base.

"To me it was great movie about a general manager that was hamstrung as far as dollars go," Washington said, "and he had to find players and put them together under a formula he thought would work. That's what the movie was about."

Washington was amused, however, that the movie failed to mention Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. "That wasn't what it was about," he added, laughing.

The plotlines for this World Series became more complicated with the postponement, now that the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Rangers' Derek Holland may be considered available. St. Louis will start Jaime Garcia as scheduled in Thursday night's's Game 6. But Carpenter, who allowed two runs in seven innings in Monday's Game 5, looms as potential relief help for the next two.

La Russa was coy when asked about Carpenter's bullpen availability for Thursday night's's elimination game. "No chance," La Russa said, before adding, "Little chance. We've got to get to [Game 7], so yeah."

The Cardinals manager must be wary of using Carpenter on short rest after he bombed in Game 2 of the Division Series against the Phillies. That was the first time in his career that Carpenter made a start on three days' rest and he lasted only three innings, giving up five hits and four runs.

The extra day does give the Cardinals' exhausted bullpen a welcome break. Their relievers have made 65 appearances in 16 games this postseason, beating the previous record of the 2002 Giants, who had 62 in 17 games. It also allows the Cardinals a chance to regroup after Monday night's bizarre eighth inning. Although La Russa has been crushed in the media for his bullpen phone antics, the players aren't about to question their future Hall of Fame manager.

"We'd run through a wall for Tony," Lance Berkman said. "The bottom line is the players are ultimately the ones that do it or don't do it. Whether we succeed or not -- that's on us."

Speaking of responsibility, Albert Pujols took the time Wednesday to further explain his controversial hit-and-run call in the seventh inning of Game 5. After La Russa was forced to cover for his franchise player on the travel day, Pujols said it was nothing unusual -- he said he had made the same call about 200 times.

As for this season, Pujols estimated maybe three times, with it working twice.

"People are throwing rocks, blaming me or Tony because it didn't work," Pujols said. "But believe me, we won a lot of games like that. It just didn't work out.

"We've just got to move on and not let that game ruin the series. We're a tough team. This series is not over."

The Rangers also will remain on schedule and start Colby Lewis for the potential clincher. But if a Game 7 is necessary, Washington was adamant about sticking with Matt Harrison, despite his lasting only 32/3 innings in Game 3.

Harrison has a 5.02 ERA with a 1.535 WHIP in three starts and one relief appearance during this postseason. As for Holland, who pitched 81/3 scoreless innings in Game 4, he could return on regular rest for Game 7, but Washington has no intention of starting him. That's what he said anyway.

"Harrison has been a big part of this team all year," Washington said. "I am not changing the things that I've been doing all year. That's why we are where we are and that's why I'm saying Harrison."

It's a decision that could make it a rough winter for Washington if the Rangers don't prevail in this World Series -- and let La Russa off the hook. His Game 5 confusion will continue to haunt La Russa should the Cardinals fall short, but there was zero he could do about that with the rainout.

"A day off is a day off," La Russa said. "I can't do anything wrong. Could run a stoplight or something."

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