Of all your Cardinal teams, is this one best constructed for playoffs or post season success because of Mulder and Carpenter?

TONY LaRUSSA: I'm not sure how to answer that because I thought other teams, and I don't want to disrespect any of them. The thing you compliment Mulder and Carpenter, but that says Woody Williams last year didn't do what he did so I would prefer not to compare.

I think we had real good shots in other years and I think we've got a real good shot this year.

Is Ray back and fully available and no concerns or reservations or anything like that?

LaRUSSA: He has not returned yet. We think he will be back before the game.

I would have concern. I mean, I don't think it makes sense to try to avoid using him.

You tweaked your lineup a little bit; can you just discuss what you did with the four, five and the seven, eight?

LaRUSSA: It's typical when we have a left-handed starter, try to put a right-hander in the four spot. It's better protection, so Reggie. Tomorrow Walker will hit fourth and Reggie goes to five. Yadier has been one of our best hitters against left handed pitching so he moves up a spot to seven.

Do you think what Roy Oswalt does sort of gets lost with Clemens and Pettitte's success?

LaRUSSA: I don't know how to answer that because the people I'm around pay a lot of attention to it. I mean, how can you deny 20-game seasons?

They have a couple of real high profile veterans who have had a ton of success. There's probably enough attention to go around. If he was the only guy there pitching he would get more attention, but he gets enough, people know how great he is.

What capacity do you see yourself using Marquis out of the bullpen?

LaRUSSA: That's a good question, because I think it's not the way you'd like to set it up to all of a sudden you take a guy who has pitched well as a starter and make him a reliever, but you've got to do what you have to do. We've got a critical miss without Reyes, and Jason has some bullpen experience. He's got the kind of electric stuff that can be special out of the pen and he's pitched well against Houston. So he bounced back. I mean, he could appear seven times, but it would be great to have a good winning game and give him a chance to make a relief appearance without it being real tight with no room for a mistake.

But we planned to use Jason early in the series, just trying to be a little careful.

Was that Game 4 decision as much about which of those guys would be an asset or more of an asset in the pen as it was about which one was going to start?

LaRUSSA: Well, I think I was asked a little while ago, and in my opinion, I think Dave shares this, if we had Al Reyes healthy, then I think Jason would pitch Game 4 because of the success he's had against Houston and especially in that ballpark. But we don't have him healthy and he is a force that we think would help us out of the pen a lot of games in an area we may be a little vulnerable.

Was it what you saw from Mark yesterday throwing, or was it how he recovered today that has you staying with him for Game 2?

LaRUSSA: Combination of the two. I did not see him pitch yesterday. All I know is I asked Dave. Dave said, "I wish we were playing yesterday." That's how strong his stuff was and how well he was locating, so the only other question was coming in today and make sure he doesn't have anything other than the normal soreness and stiffness and he doesn't, so it's a combination of the two.

It's a better setup. We could have made the adjustment and pitched Matt tomorrow but it's a better setup for us.

Any concern for Larry Walker yet, he took a ball off his knee in Game 3.

LaRUSSA: I actually did talk to Larry a little while ago and he does have some soreness. He's playable but it would be something late in the game if it looks like we could get his bat out of there without damaging us, that it would probably be smart to play So out there sometime later. He is sore and will probably get sore as the game goes along, so we will pay attention to it as we go along.