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09/30/09 7:35 PM ET

Cards' La Russa set to pass McGraw

Skipper to move to No. 2 all-time in games managed

CINCINNATI -- There aren't many milestones left for Tony La Russa, but barring a shocker, the Cardinals skipper will pass a pretty big one Thursday afternoon.

That's when he will pass the legendary John McGraw on the all-time games managed list. La Russa tied McGraw on Wednesday night with game No. 4,769. On Thursday he'll manage his 4,770th big league game. He stands third all-time in wins, behind another legend, Connie Mack, and McGraw. La Russa entered Wednesday with a career record of 2,551-2,213.

In typical fashion, he brushed off the accomplishment with a joke, but longevity is certainly a mark of a successful manager. If you don't win, you don't stick around.

"The general manager says if we don't do better than the last five games, there may be somebody else there Wednesday," La Russa quipped.

Mack holds the all-time games-managed record with 7,755. La Russa would need to manage 18 1/2 more seasons to pass him, which is unlikely to say the least.

La Russa noted that due to the numerology involved, he might be obligated to play No. 47, Ryan Ludwick in Thursday's game.

"I was thinking about not playing Ludwick," he said. "Maybe for the '4,' I'll play [Yadier Molina], then..."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.