Tavarez returns from tantrum, injury for win

ST. LOUIS (ESPN.com news services) -- Jim Edmonds skipped around the bases, jumping

into a cluster of St. Louis Cardinals waiting for him at home


Now, waiting for all of them is Roger Clemens in an

all-or-nothing Game 7.

Game 6 Breakdown


Jim Edmonds. The stage was set up perfectly for him with Albert Pujols on first base and one out in the bottom of the 12th. Edmonds deposited the second pitch he saw from Dan Miceli over the wall in right-center, sending the series to a seventh and deciding game.


Craig Biggio. While Miceli served up Edmonds' game-winning blast, Biggio had an awful game as he went 0-for-6.

Turning Point

When Brad Lidge walked off the mound at the end of the 11th inning. He retired nine straight batters, five on strikeouts, from the ninth through the 11th. Miceli took over for Lidge to start the 12th. Game over.

It Figures

Lidge has 14 strikeouts in the series, setting a LCS record for the most by a relief pitcher.

On Deck

A winner-take-all Game 7 is set for Thursday in St. Louis. Roger Clemens, who tossed seven superb innings --giving up two runs -- in earning the victory in Game 3, will start for the Astros. Jeff Suppan will counter for the Cardinals. He took the loss in Game 3 despite allowing just three runs in six innings.

Edmonds blasted a two-run homer in the 12th inning and the

rejuvenated Cardinals turned Busch Stadium into a red frenzy,

beating the Houston Astros 6-4 Wednesday to even the NL

Championship Series at 3-all.

"We all watched TV as kids. We all hear all the stuff you guys

say and write and show us. I finally get to play in a Game 7,"

Edmonds said.

"I think how much better does it get? Game 7 vs. Roger

Clemens," he said.

After Jeff Bagwell's two-out single in the ninth off Cardinals

closer Jason Isringhausen tied it at 4, Edmonds won it with a

one-out shot off Dan Miceli.

Bagwell didn't even bother watching as Edmonds' shot sailed way

over the St. Louis bullpen in right field. The star first baseman

simply walked across the field while the Cardinals streamed out of

the dugout.

"A very winnable game for us, so I'm disappointed," Astros

manager Phil Garner said. "Haven't given much thought to

tomorrow's game, only that I had scheduled the Rocket to go."

Clemens came out of retirement for the sole purpose of pitching

his hometown Astros into their first World Series. Now, the

42-year-old ace will get that chance Thursday night when he starts

against former Boston teammate Jeff Suppan.

"What's there to say?" Clemens said, excusing himself to go

watch Game 7 of the ALCS in which Boston beat New York 10-3. "We've got

to win tomorrow."

The Cardinals have won a best-of-seven series each time they have trailed 3-2, a total of five times. The Cardinals managed the feat in four World Series: in 1926 against New York, in '34 over Detroit, in '46 versus Boston, in the '82 World Series against Milwaukee. St. Louis came back in the NLCS once, in 1987 against San Francisco.

It will be will Clemens' fourth career start in a Game 7 -- he's

1-0 in those outings after getting knocked out early last year in

the ALCS for the Yankees.

"I've never seen him pitch when he wasn't tough to beat,"

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It shapes up to be a

terrific matchup."

St. Louis is 6-0, including Wednesday's victory, when facing elimination at home in postseason games since 1969.

Righty Julian Tavarez went two innings for the victory. He

pitched with a left hand that he broke in a dugout tantrum in


"It's my understanding that it's the fingers that are broken as

opposed to the hand, so I'm not surprised. He did throw well,"

Garner said.

The Cardinals won a postseason game in extra innings for the

first time since the 1964 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

Miceli came on after Astros superman Brad Lidge blew away St.

Louis for three perfect innings, striking out five.

"Of course you want him out of there," St. Louis' Albert

Pujols said.

Pujols drew a leadoff walk and one out later Edmonds connected

for his second homer of the NLCS.

Pujols got the Cardinals started with a two-run homer in the

first off Pete Munro. The journeyman pitched so that Clemens would

not have to work on three days' rest.

The Cardinals took a 4-3 lead into the ninth, but Isringhausen

immediately put himself in jeopardy by hitting pinch-hitter Morgan

Ensberg leading off. A bunt moved Ensberg to second and Craig

Biggio hit a fly ball for the second out.

That brought up the marvelous Carlos Beltran, and the Cardinals

huddled on the mound. A big cheer broke out in the sellout crowd of

52,144 when catcher Mike Matheny signaled for an intentional walk.

Bagwell foiled the strategy, hitting a hard RBI single on the

first pitch. After a double steal, Isringhausen managed to keep it

tied by striking out Lance Berkman.

In the bottom half, Lidge retired the first two batters before

throwing a fastball over the head of Edmonds.

La Russa came out of the dugout to discuss the pitch with plate

umpire Ed Rapuano. Before the game, the manager angrily confronted

baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson behind the batting cage, steamed

that Tavarez was fined $10,000 for a pitch over Bagwell's helmet in

Game 4.

"The only thing I was upset about was MLB made this ridiculous

ruling about Tavarez," La Russa said.

After hitting only .161 in three straight losses at Minute Maid

Park, the Cardinals quickly found their stroke at Busch Stadium.

Pujols put St. Louis ahead with his sixth homer of the

postseason, a two-run shot, and later added a double and single. He

scored twice, and was nailed at the plate another time when he ran

through a coach's stop sign.

Beltran, continuing to build his October resume, hit two balls

off the right-field wall and both times was held to a single by

right fielder Larry Walker's fast relay. Beltran scored twice, and

his 20 runs broke Barry Bonds' postseason record of 18 set in 2002.

Mike Lamb, starting at third base in place of the struggling

Ensberg, hit a solo homer off Matt Morris in the fourth that made

it 4-3.

Game notes
Through six games of the NLCS, the Astros and Cardinals have the same batting average (.246), runs scored (29) and ERA (4.80) ... Brandon Backe, the Game 5 winner, struck out against

Tavarez as a pinch-hitter in the 12th. ... The Cardinals played a

postseason extra-inning game at home for the first time since the

1946 World Series opener. ... Tony Womack singled twice, but left

after three innings because of lower back spasms. Hector Luna took

over at 2B. La Russa said it was uncertain if Womack would play

Thursday night. ... Isringhausen pitched three innings for the

first time since Sept. 9, 2001, with Oakland. ... The teams have

combined for 22 home runs, one shy of the record for a postseason

series set by the Cubs and Marlins in last year's NLCS.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.