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Cardinals short hops
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10/08/2004 1:57 AM ET
Cardinals short hops
Two-out hitting continues upward trend
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ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers in the National League Division Series largely because of what they have done when batting with two out. They have scored 13 of their 16 runs that way, and the tone for this series was set when they scored those five runs in the third inning of the 8-3 Game 1 victory.

After the Cardinals added five more runs that way in another 8-3 victory Thursday at Busch Stadium, manager Tony La Russa said of the trend, "We've been really good at that this year. Our guys are very committed to three outs every inning."

One quick check of the Cardinals' postseason media guide illustrates La Russa's point. The Cardinals scored 855 runs this season. An impressive 302 of them came with two out.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 2 of the NLDS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 3.00 no change in team ERA ... thanks largely to bullpen
BA .299 five players with at least three hits so far
Runs 16 first by long ball, then by small ball
Errors 0 probably most overlooked stat so far

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Edgar Renteria .667 BA (4-for-6), 4 R started two more two-out rallies Thursday
Ray King 2 G, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R another perfect inning, this one Finley-Beltre-Green

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Scott Rolen 0-for-6 a few walks, but hitless in NLDS. Healthy yet?
Jason Marquis 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 3 HR shortest outing of year; lost 4 of last 5

Behind the numbers
The Cards' 6-7-8 hitters of Renteria, Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny were 8-for-10 with five RBIs and scored five runs. That's more than half of Los Angeles' hit total this series.

Frozen moment
Cal Eldred was left in after a Dave Duncan visit during the big Dodgers fourth, with the bags full and salami-maker Steve Finley up. Eldred went 3-and-0, then 3-and-2 -- and preserves 3-3 tie on fly to center.

Slick move
After Danny Haren threw two nice innings, King was summoned to start the seventh for lefty-lefty vs. Finley -- and retired him on a grounder to second.

A perfect pattern
If the Cardinals win Saturday's Game 3, it will mark the fourth time in as many tries that they have swept three games in NL Division Series that have this unusual every-other-day schedule. This is the only one of the four 2004 Division Series that follow this format. The other years, with home-field advantage denoted in all caps:

1996: CARDINALS over Padres
2000: CARDINALS over Braves
2002: Cardinals over DIAMONDBACKS

More Mike Matheny marks
Matheny had one of the Cardinals' postseason-record-tying five homers in Game 1, and he added some history again in Game 2 by becoming the first Cardinal to drive in four runs in a Division Series game. Matheny had a pair of two-run singles.

Last word
"I'm thinking, 'This is really bad.'"
-- La Russa, describing the fourth-inning situation with Eldred down 3-and-0 to Finley, bases loaded, score tied and the Busch crowd booing, before Eldred escaped

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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