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Game 7 starters: Suppan for Cardinals, Perez for Mets

NEW YORK -- Jeff Suppan pitched a pair of clinching games in
2004, the last time the St. Louis Cardinals made it to the World
Series.

They'll ask him to do it again in Game 7 against New York Mets
fill-in starter Oliver Perez.

Suppan beat Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS after
eliminating the Dodgers in the divisional round. He was the team's
second-most reliable starter with 12 victories, and had a 2.34 ERA
after the All-Star break.

His last outing was one of his best all season. He allowed only
three hits in eight shutout innings in Game 3.

"We have a lot of confidence in Soup," third baseman Scott
Rolen said. "He's a great professional. He's going to go out and
do his job, there's no doubt about that."

Mets manager Willie Randolph waited until after beating St.
Louis 4-2 on Wednesday night to announce that Perez would get his
second start of the NLCS. Perez allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings
in New York's 12-5 victory in Game 4 after going 3-13 with a 6.55
ERA in the regular season.

"He's done a nice job for us since he's been here, very similar
to Johnny Maine in a lot of ways," Randolph said. "He's throwing
the ball well. He needs to give us another quality start."

Scrambling for starters throughout the postseason because of
injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez, New York had
several choices for Game 7, including Steve Trachsel and long
reliever Darren Oliver.

"Everyone wants to pitch in the seventh game," Perez said.
"You have to just prepare. It's another opportunity for me."

Trachsel left Game 3 in the second inning with a bruised thigh
after getting hit by Preston Wilson's hard comebacker. He would
have been on regular rest, but was roughed up by St. Louis for five
runs, five hits and five walks in one-plus inning last Saturday.

Trachsel is 0-1 with a 14.54 ERA in two playoff starts covering
only 4 1/3 innings. He warmed up in the ninth, but Randolph said
Trachsel was just getting some work.

Oliver replaced Trachsel in Game 3 and threw six scoreless
innings of three-hit ball. But the left-hander hasn't made a start
all season.

"This series has kind of gone back and forth," Mets outfielder
Shawn Green said. "The rotation obviously has had a lot of
injuries and guys have stepped forward and got us to this point. We
feel like we can find a way to win these last two and get to the
World Series. It's obviously not going to be easy."

Throughout the season, Suppan's favorite catchword was
"focus," and he leaned on it again in a pregame interview session
Wednesday.

"My confidence comes from our team and I focus on what we have
to do as a team to win," Suppan said. "So, obviously our focus is
on today. I don't really concern myself a whole lot on what the
Mets have to do right now."