A look at the best-of-5 National League division series between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals: Schedule: Game 1, Tuesday, at St. Louis (1:07 p.m. EDT, ESPN); Game 2, Thursday, at St. Louis (4:07 p.m., ESPN); Game 3, Saturday, at Atlanta (TBA); x-Game 4, Sunday, at Atlanta (TBA); x-Game 5, Monday, at St. Louis (TBA).
Season Series: St. Louis won, 4-3.
Braves: Rafael Furcal ss2b (.295, 87 runs, 40 SBs), Andruw Jones cf (.303, 36 HRs, 104 RBIs, 122 runs, 21 SBs), Chipper Jones 3b (.311, 36, 111, 25 errors, 116 runs), Andres Galarraga 1b (.302, 28, 100), Javy Lopez (.287, 24, 89) OR Paul Bako c (.226, 2, 20), Reggie Sanders lf (.229, 11, 37), Brian Jordan rf (.264, 17, 77), Keith Lockhart (.265, 2, 32) OR Walt Weiss 2bss (.260, 0, 18).
Cardinals: Fernando Vina 2b (.300, 4, 31), J.D. Drew rf (.295, 18, 57, 17 SBs), Jim Edmonds cf (.295, 42, 108, 129 runs, 103 BBs), Will Clark 1b (.319, 21, 70), Fernando Tatis 3b (.253, 18, 64), Ray Lankford lf (.253, 26, 65), Edgar Renteria ss (.278, 16, 76, 21 SBs), Carlos Hernandez c (.256, 3, 35). Note: Mark McGwire (.305, 32, 73) will not play the field because of tendinitis in his right knee, but will be a dangerous pinch-hitter off the bench.
Braves: RH Greg Maddux (19-9, 3.00 ERA), LH Tom Glavine (21-9, 3.40), RH Andy Ashby (12-13, 4.92).
Cardinals: RH Darryl Kile (20-9, 3.91), RH Garrett Stephenson (16-9, 4.49), LH Rick Ankiel (11-7, 3.50), RH Pat Hentgen (15-12, 4.72) or RH Andy Benes (12-9, 4.88).
Braves: LH John Rocker (1-2, 2.89, 24/27 saves, 48 BBs, 77 Ks, 53 innings), RH Kerry Ligtenberg (2-3, 3.61, 12), LH Mike Remlinger (5-3, 3.47, 12), LH Terry Mulholland (9-9, 5.11, 1), RH Kevin Millwood (10-13, 4.66), RH John Burkett (10-6, 4.89). Cardinals: RH Dave Veres (3-5, 2.85, 29/36), RH Matt Morris (3-3, 3.57, 4), LH Jason Christiansen (3-8, 5.06, 1), RH Mike Timlin (5-4, 4.18, 12), RH Mike James (2-2, 3.16, 2), RH Pat Hentgen (15-12, 4.72) or RH Andy Benes (12-9, 4.88).
Clark feasted on Atlanta pitching, going 13-for-29 (.448) with five homers, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored. ... Renteria sets table for Cards, hitting .478 with six runs scored in seven games. ... MVP candidate Edmonds (5-for-28) struggled in first go-around against Atlanta's vaunted staff, but hit two homers in four-game series in Atlanta in late August. ... Tatis had only one hit in 17 at-bats. ... McGwire did not play against the Braves and has only one career homer against Atlanta. ... Teams last met in postseason in 1996 NLCS. Cardinals had a 3-1 series lead before Braves won last three, outscoring St. Louis 32-1. ... Maddux did not face Cards this season, but is 18-15 with a 2.59 ERA in his career against St. Louis. ... Furcal hit .440 against St. Louis and will be threat on the bases, especially with starting catcher Mike Matheny sidelined. ... Chipper Jones (.115, 1, 3) and Brian Jordan (.182, 0, 0) struggled against St. Louis. ... Andruw Jones hit .320 with seven RBIs.
Braves: Despite losing John Smoltz for the season and dealing with season-long Rocker circus, Braves won ninth straight division title. ... After shaky start, Rocker has been tough down the stretch despite blowing save on final day of season to cost Atlanta home field in this series. Rocker hasn't allowed an earned run since Aug. 22, a span of 13 1-3 innings. ... Atlanta is 15-2 in division series games since format began in 1995. ... Maddux and Glavine are pitching well heading into postseason. Maddux had a string of 39 1-3 scoreless innings end in his last start against the Mets. Glavine has thrown 14 straight scoreless innings entering postseason. Two aces would likely start four of five games if series goes the distance. ... The Braves overcame a season-ending injury to 2B Quilvio Veras, who hit .309 in 84 games and had a .409 on-base percentage when Furcal, who played in Class-A last year, had an outstanding season filling in. ... Galarraga came back from cancer, missing all of the 1999 season, to hit over .300 with 28 homers and 100 RBIs. ... Chipper Jones knocked in more than 100 runs for the fifth consecutive year, hit over .300 and shared the team-high in home runs with Andruw Jones at 36. ... Braves will miss Lopez's bat when Maddux starts. Light-hitting Bako is personal catcher for Maddux. ... Sanders, after hitting below .200 for most of the season, came on in September by hitting .400 and ended the regular season with a 10-game hitting streak. ... OF B.J. Surhoff hasn't started since Sept. 7 when he pulled right quadriceps. He's 0-for-9 as a pinch hitter, which is all he can do anymore.
Cardinals: McGwire's first trip to postseason since 1992 will be spent on the bench. But his presence on bench as most dangerous pinch-hitter in baseball will alter late-inning strategy. ... Rotation has been a strength all year, until lately. Stephenson and Hentgen struggled in September, and even 20-game winner Darryl Kile is coming off a pair of mediocre outings. ... Catching is problem area, with Matheny lost for the season after slicing two tendons in right ring on Friday. Of the replacements, Hernandez has a disc problem in his back that will require offseason surgery and team doesn't like Eli Marrero's game-calling skills. ... Matheny is the latest in a string of injuries to key performers, the biggest of all to McGwire, and it didn't stop them from running away with the NL Central. They also overcame the loss of Tatis (torn groin) for two months, so-so year from Lankford and Andy Benes (knee) was out of the rotation for a month. ... Edmonds struggled for about a month and a half after McGwire was hurt, batting just .188 in August, but regained his stroke the final month. ... Defense very strong up the middle with Vina, Renteria and Edmonds.
-- Big Mac. There has never been a more dangerous pinch-hitter than McGwire. When manager Tony La Russa deploys his big bat and how Bobby Cox matches up will be big theme in series.
-- Repeat performance? Braves have made it to the postseason for the ninth straight time, but have only won one World Series (1995) title.
-- Running game. Matheny threw out 51 percent of basestealers, but is out for the season. Speedy Furcal and the Joneses could take advantage.
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