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Notes: Oswalt not on pitch count
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10/11/2004 8:57 PM ET
Notes: Oswalt not on pitch count
Harville, Wheeler unused in first four games
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   Roy Oswalt  /   P
Born: 08/29/77
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

ATLANTA -- Fully expecting a typical Roy Oswalt performance on Monday, manager Phil Garner indicated the right-hander would not be on a pitch count in Game 5 of the Division Series.

In fact, Garner has not had any of his starters on any pitch counts since the playoffs began.

"There were a lot of questions about [Roger] Clemens and did I have him limited on pitches [on Sunday]," Garner said. "No, I did not have him limited on pitches. I took him out because he was gassed. It didn't have anything to do with pitch count."

All hands on deck: With Monday being a do-or-die situation for the Astros, there were few, if any, Astros on the playoff roster not available to work.

That includes Brandon Backe, who would likely pitch Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, should they get that far.

"I went to Phil and I told him that I'll be more than happy to be used today if need be," Backe said. "He said, 'I planned for you to be out there.' We were both thinking the same way."

That doesn't mean the excitable Backe will spend the entire evening in the bullpen.

"I'm sure I'll stay in here a little bit and try to get these guys pumped up and see how the game goes," he said.

What about us? Through the first four games of the Division Series, only two relievers had yet to see game action -- right-handers Chad Harville and Dan Wheeler.

But if the Astros are to advance to the NLCS, they're likely going to need help from their entire bullpen, considering a fourth starter would have to be added and it will probably be Pete Munro, who hasn't pitched since Oct. 2.

In that start against the Rockies, Munro was lifted after 2 2/3 innings in favor of a pinch-hitter, a method Garner used many times during the last month of regular-season games.

If Munro pitches Game 1 on Wednesday, it's likely he'll need some help from the bullpen after such a long layoff.

"We're prepared," Harville said. "We were prepared for that yesterday. If Pete would have started yesterday, and 'Gar' has been taking Pete out early in a lot of games early lately, we were ready for that.

"We're ready to do that if we have to. If we make it to the next round, we're going to have to do that one, maybe two, games."

To stay sharp, Harville has been throwing regularly in the bullpen, both on game days and workout days. The former Oakland Athletic is hoping to break his streak of being on postseason rosters but not actually seeing any playing time.

"I have nine games in the playoffs under my belt and I haven't gotten in there," he said. "I'd like to get in there. We're just trying to win and get to that next step."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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