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Tavarez's penalty reduced by two games

DENVER -- An appeal did little to help St. Louis reliever Julian Tavarez, who was suspended for eight days Friday for
applying a foreign substance to balls while pitching last month.

Tavarez was ejected from a game Aug. 24 against Pittsburgh when
umpires inspected his grimy hat. After the game, crew chief Joe
West said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa "as much admitted" it
was pine tar on Tavarez' cap.

Tavarez was originally handed a 10-game suspension. The penalty,
which began with Friday's game at Colorado, was reduced by two
games after the appeal.

Still, La Russa was livid, not only because Tavarez won't return
until Oct. 2, with just two games remaining in the regular season,
but because he doesn't think the penalty is appropriate for the transgression.

"Every year, there have been some hot competitions all over the
league, and there have been some eruptions involving players,
umpires, all of which are so much worse for our game ... and those
things routinely get penalized with two, three, five games. And
this is an eight-gamer? For something they haven't even proven?
What kind of message is baseball sending there? The message I get
is a bad one," La Russa said.

The commissioner's office had no further comment, spokesman Pat Courtney said.

Tavarez (7-4, 2.45 ERA) is St. Louis' main setup man in the
bullpen. He sounded resigned to the suspension.

"What am I going to do?'' he said. "I won't have a lot of time
before the playoffs."