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Cardinals, Dodgers name NLCS starters

Kelly, Greinke set for Game 1

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POSTED October 10, 2013 10:51 p.m.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Carpets were still drying out from a champagne bath and a few players looked bleary eyed after a workout at Busch Stadium. A day after advancing, there wasn’t much time to rest for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Obviously, it was a great celebration and a lot of fun,” reliever John Axford said Thursday. “The clubhouse guys, I don’t know if they even went home.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have home-field advantage in the NL championship series, but they got a few extra days to savor early postseason success. Zack Greinke was getting ready to go in Game 5, then went on stand-by, and now he guards against feeling too good in the opener Friday night.

“Once we won it, it was just kind of make the best adjustments possible,” Greinke said. “I mean, there’s not much you can really do.”

No telling which side will benefit, the team on a roll or the team coming off a break. Joe Kelly, who flourished as a replacement starter with St. Louis and gets the call for Game 1, was elevated to the fifth starting spot and then waited almost two weeks before actually getting on the mound.

“You could be laid off for eight days and come out and play absolutely the best baseball you’ve ever done,” Kelly said. “You could come out and play the next day and not have a good game. This is all about execution.”

As a youth, Kelly was a budding skateboard star with a sponsor. Like other Cardinals youngsters, he’s seemed oblivious to the pressure.

“It’s Game 1 of the NLCS, but me being me, I’m going to go out there and just pitch like it’s another game,” he said.

The staff aces won’t go until later in the best-of-seven series, with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw set for Game 2 and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright ready for Game 3.

Rookie Michael Wacha, who has flirted with a no-hitter his last two starts, goes in Game 2 for St. Louis. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he’d probably announce the rest of the starting assignments on game day.



Red Sox SS Bogaerts, 21, coming of age in playoffs

BOSTON (AP) — To Red Sox teammate Jonny Gomes, it doesn’t matter that Xander Bogaerts just turned 21 and had never appeared in a postseason game before this week.

“When you’re between the lines, it hides your age,” Gomes said. “It hides your draft status. It hides your contract.”

Bogaerts walked twice and scored two runs in the Game 4 clincher against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, one night after he entered the game as a Boston pinch-runner and scored the game-tying run. In all, he has appeared in two games in the postseason, scoring three runs with a perfect on-base percentage: 1.000.

All before his first official at-bat.

“I just went up there and tried to get on base,” Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1, said on Thursday while the Red Sox waited to learn their AL championship series opponent. “For me, I wanted to reach on base. I didn’t want to hit a homer.”



Pirates not satisfied after breakthrough season

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t simply end a streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons in 2013, they smashed it.

Pittsburgh won 94 games, made the playoffs and pushed St. Louis to the brink in the NL division series. Now comes the hard part, staying near the top.

The Pirates will have several big decisions to make in the offseason, including whether to try and re-sign pitcher A.J. Burnett and lure back waiver deadline acquisitions Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau.

General manager Neal Huntington says the team needs to remain budget conscious going forward. The Pirates put together a payroll of $73 million this season.

Owner Bob Nutting says his team can stay competitive at that figure as long as the Pirates are smart about how they spend money.

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