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10/16/11 7:56 PM ET

La Russa ensuring bench players stay fresh

MILWAUKEE -- Few managers use their full roster over the course of the regular season like the Cardinals' Tony La Russa. He's a fervent believer that for at least the first four months of the year, it's vital to keep all 25 players involved.

Come October, however, the imperative is to play the best players every day. It gets more difficult for those bench players to stay sharp when they're not even averaging one at-bat per day. However, La Russa said Sunday that it's not a major concern, noting that several of his bench players have gotten starts at some point in October.

"They're not getting the four at-bats that would help them be a better pinch-hitter," La Russa said, "[but Allen] Craig and [Daniel] Descalso have started recently. [Ryan] Theriot has started. There is the stuff you do throughout the season to use the roster and there's stuff at the end where your best shot is your best shot and the other guys complement."

La Russa said that if the Cardinals were to advance to the World Series, they likely would have some kind of simulated game on Tuesday's workout day in order to allow the bench players something closer to live pitching.

Garcia won't pad Cards' bullpen in Game 6

MILWAUKEE -- Despite the heavy workload the Cardinals' bullpen has shouldered thus far in the National League Championship Series, the relief corps won't be getting any extra bodies in Games 6. Manager Tony La Russa said Sunday that none of his starting pitchers would be available to pitch out of the bullpen for Sunday night's potential clincher.

The Cards are carrying eight relief pitchers, so that's not a huge shock. But Sunday would be Jaime Garcia's throw day, so it might have made sense to make Garcia available as a third lefty in relief. La Russa said he will not use Garcia that way, though.

"We didn't even list him [as an available reliever]," La Russa said. "I think we're good for today."

Cards relievers efficient despite heavy use

MILWAUKEE -- Not only have the Cardinals' relievers been effective in the National League Championship Series, they've also been economical with their pitches.

Yes, the bullpen has been heavily used, but one reason why is because it gets the job done quickly.

Entering Game 6 against the Brewers at Miller Park on Sunday, St. Louis' bullpen had thrown 318 pitches in 21 2/3 innings. The relievers are averaging 14.7 pitches per batter.

The 'pen has tossed nearly as many innings as the starters (22 1/3) in the series.

Where the bullpen has done such a good job is limiting the number of pitchers. Cardinals starters have racked up 402 pitches, and average 18 pitches per inning.

"Everybody has been playing together, doing their part and we're keeping it together," said long reliever Lance Lynn, who has compiled 4 1/3 innings in four appearances.

St. Louis relievers have a 1.66 ERA, compared to a 6.04 ERA for the starters.

Lynn's 56 pitches are the most of any Cardinals reliever in the series. Fernando Salas has 55 pitches in four innings, while Jason Motte has been the most economical. In Motte's three games, he has two saves and logged 42 pitches, with 32 for strikes.

Octavio Dotel is at 52 pitches (39 strikes) in 3 1/3 innings.

In all, 66 percent of the relievers' pitches have been strikes, another edge of the starters (62 percent). "I think we're not throwing too much in between [games]," lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski said. "Tony [La Russa] is doing a great job limiting our innings. We're staying balanced like that, and Tony is using us when he needs to."

La Russa 'disappointed' for pal Leyland

MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had more than a passing interest in Saturday night's American League Championship Series Game 6. Of course, any manager would be interested in a potential opponent for the next round. But for the Cards' skipper, it was a bit more than that. Jim Leyland, the Tigers' manager, is one of La Russa's closest friends in baseball, if not the closest.

Therefore, seeing the Tigers take a blowout loss in the series finale was no fun.

"I felt very, whatever the word is, not sad, but just disappointed for Jim and the Tigers, because that was a lot closer series," he said. "You don't want to get blown out in an elimination game. In the last four or five innings of that game, you're trying to get to the end of it. It did not reflect that series. The Tigers were very competitive. The Rangers had to do a lot to beat them, had to beat them in extra innings.

"I was disappointed for my friends there. Better to get beaten in the ninth inning with a home run by [Nelson] Cruz than to go through what they went through. Other than that, the Rangers went out to repeat and they did it, that's hard to do in the Major Leagues."


• Albert Pujols and the Brewers' Ryan Braun have each set the Major League record for most doubles in a single postseason, with seven. They're the first pair of players to hit seven doubles each in the same postseason.

• The Cardinals used the same lineup -- aside from the starting pitcher, of course -- in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series as in Game 5.

• Lance Berkman has two steals this postseason, as many as in his previous four postseason combined.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.