TONIGHT: St. Louis hosts Houston in Game Two of the 36th National League Championship Series...Last night the Cards took a 5-0 lead after five innings and went on to win 5-3...The Cardinals are coming off a three game sweep of San Diego in the Division Series...The Astros advanced to the LCS after defeating Atlanta three games to one in their best-of-five Division Series last week.

GAME TWO NOTABLES: In NLCS history, 17 clubs have jumped out to a 2-0 lead and only two of those teams have lost the series (the 1984 Cubs and 1985 Dodgers)...Since the seven game format began in 1985, seven of the eight NL clubs that took a 2-0 lead advanced to the World Series...The only NL team since then to blow a 2-0 lead was the 1985 Los Angeles Dodgers, who led 2-0 over the Cardinals (St. Louis won the next four to take the series)...The series shifts to Houston for Game Three Saturday afternoon...Houston's last game at home resulted in a 7-6 LCSclinching win over Atlanta in the longest game in postseason history in both innings (18) and time (5:50).
• In 18 of the past 35 NLCS, the loser of Game One has bounced back to win Game Two...Of the 18 teams that have tied the series 1-1, eight went on to claim the pennant (the last team to do it was the 1991 Atlanta Braves over the Pirates).
• In 21 of the past 35 NLCS, the road team has won Game Two.
•In NLCS history, the loser of Game One has come back to win the series on 10 occasions (most recent the 1991 Atlanta Braves).

ASTROS IN GAME TWO: The Astros are 1-2 in Game Two in their previous three trips to the NLCS...Their lone Game Two victory came in 1980 against Los Angeles.

CARDS IN GAME TWO: The Cardinals are 3-4 in Game Two in their previous seven trips to the NLCS...Prior to last year's Game Two home win against the Astros, the Cards dropped four of five Game Twos in this round of the playoffs. 20 X 2: Tonight's starter, Roy Oswalt, has posted back-to-back 20 win seasons...The last NL pitchers to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons were Arizona's Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001-02.

REGGIE ROLLING: Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders has collected 12 RBI in his first four games of this year's postseason...Last year David Ortiz had a postseasonhigh 19 RBI in 14 games for the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

PAINT IT RED: The Cardinals have won nine straight games at Busch Stadium in the LCS and Division Series round of the playoffs...In addition to sweeping San Diego in two games this year in the Division Series, the Cards went 4-0 against the Astros in the LCS at home last year and 2-0 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2004 Division Series...St. Louis' last home loss in the first two rounds of the playoffs occurred in Game Two of the 2002 LCS when San Francisco's Jason Schmidt won a 4-1 decision over Woody Williams.

MAKING HIS MARK: Tonight's starter, Mark Mulder, has a 2.05 ERA (30.2ip/7er) in five career postseason starts...In his last 10 starts at Busch Stadium since June 28 (including postseason), Mulder has gone 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA (70.0ip/13er)...The Cards have posted a 9-1 record in those 10 games.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Last night each member of the Molina family started in their respective LCS games...Yadier Molina started behind the plate for the Cardinals...Bengie Molina served as the Angels designated hitter while Jose Molina started behind the plate in Los Angeles' ALCS contest against the Chicago White Sox...Bengie Molina is tied for the major league lead with teammate Garret Anderson for most home runs this postseason with three.

PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: The Cardinals enter tonight's action with a seven game winning streak dating back to the regular season...St. Louis' last loss came against the Astros on September 28 here at Busch Stadium when Morgan Ensberg broke a 6-6 tie with the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning.

CENTRAL CHAMPIONS?: Last year the Cardinals became the first NL Central representative to advance to the World Series since Major League Baseball switched to six divisions in 1994...No Central team has ever won the World Series since the six division format began in 1994...Here's a look at each division and how many World Series representaives they've each had over the last 10 years (no World Series in 1994)...underline indicates World Champions...

AL East -- 7 (New York '96, '98, '99, '00, '01, '03, Boston '04)
AL Central -- 2 (Cleveland '95, '97)
AL West -- 1 (Anaheim '02)
NL East -- 6 (Atlanta '95, '96, '99, Florida '97, '03, New York '00)
NL Central -- 1 (St. Louis '04)
NL West -- 3 (San Diego '98, Arizona '01, San Francisco '02)


HOW THEY GOT HERE

HOUSTON ASTROS
The Astros were the NL's wild card winner, finishing in second place in the Central Division with an 89-73 record...Houston finished 11.0 games behind St. Louis in the division.

Houston advanced to the LCS by defeating the Atlanta Braves three games to one in the Division Series...The Astros clinched their berth to the LCS after winning in 18-innings Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid.

DATE SITEWINNERSCORE
10/5 ATLPettitte 10-5
10/6 ATL Smoltz 1-7
10/8 HOU Oswalt7-3
10/9 HOUClemens 7-6


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Cardinals won the NL Central, finishing 11.0 games ahead of the Houston Astros.

St. Louis won 100 games for the second straight season for the second time in club history...The Cards also posted triple digits in wins in three straight years from1942-44. The Cards swept San Diego three games to none in the Division Series.

DATE SITEWINNERSCORE
10/4STLCarpenter W, 8-5
10/6STL Mulder W, 6-2
10/8 SDMorris W, 7-4


POST-SEASON RECAP

HOUSTON ASTROS
The Astros are playing in the LCS for the fourth time in club history...Here is how they have fared in the previous three . . .

YEAROPPONENTRESULT
1980PhiladelphiaL, 2-3
1986New YorkL, 2-4
2004St. LouisL, 3-4


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
St. Louis is playing in its eighth LCS....Here is how the Redbirds have fared in the previous seven...

YEAROPPONENTRESULT
1982AtlantaW, 3-0
1985Los AngelesW, 4-2
1987San FranciscoW, 4-3
1996AtlantaL, 3-4
2000New YorkL, 1-4
2002 San FranciscoL, 1-4
2004HoustonW, 4-3


SAVE THE LAST OUT: Jason Isringhausen picked up his fifth career LCS save in Game One Wednesday night...He is now one of just three pitchers in NLCS history to have five career saves (also Tug McGraw and Robb Nen)...Dennis Eckersley owns a LCS-record 11 saves during his big league career.

THINKING AHEAD: The Cardinals have not trailed at any point in their first four games of this postseason.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP: The Astros and Cardinals have won the Central Division in all but one year since 1996...The only other team to claim the Central Division crown in that time was the 2003 Chicago Cubs. MOVING ON UP:: This is the eighth National League Championship Series appearance for the St. Louis Cardinals...The Cards are now tied with Cincinnati for third-most appearances in the NLCS...Only Atlanta (11) and Pittsburgh (9) have appeared in more NLCS.

WELCOME HOME: The home team has won every game the last two years in the NLCS...Last year marked just the fourth best-of-seven playoff series in MLB history in which the home team held serve, joining the 2001 World Series (Arizona vs. New York Yankees), the 1991 World Series (Atlanta vs. Minnesota) and the 1987 World Series (Minnesota vs. St. Louis).

Winning Ways: Tony La Russa is managing in his tenth LCS, which includes one year with the White Sox (1983), four with the Oakland A's (1988-90) and now his fifth with the Cardinals (1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 & 2005)...La Russa's 2,214 wins as a manager ranks third all-time behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763)...La Russa has also compiled a career record of 47-39 in the postseason, which ranks third behind Joe Torre (74) and Bobby Cox (66).

Scrap Iron: Phil Garner is managing in his second straight LCS after being named manager of the Astros on November 2, 2004...Last year Phil took over the Astros following the All-Star break and the club responded by going 48-26 while falling one win shy of making it to the World Series...Phil was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, where he set a World Series record for most double plays by a second baseman in a seven game series (nine) and tied a World Series record for highest batting average (.500) in a seven game series by collecting at least one hit each of the seven games. The Best of You: The Cardinals posted the best record in the majors this year with 100 wins in 2005...It's the eighth time in club history the Cards posted triple digits in wins.

FAMILIAR FACES: This is the first time two teams are facing each other in the NLCS in back-to-back seasons since Pittsburgh and Atlanta in 1991-92...Los Angeles and Philadelphia also met in the NLCS in back-to-back years in 1977-78.

WILD BOYS: Each of the last three World Series Champions has been a Wild Card team (Anaheim in 2002, Florida in 2003 and Boston in 2004)...The NL Wild Card team has advanced to the World Series in two of the last three seasons (San Francisco in 2002 and Florida in 2003).

GO THE DISTANCE: The last two National League Championship Series have gone seven games (also Chicago vs. Florida in 2003) after each of the previous three were decided in five games...Since the league went to a seven-game format in 1985, 14 of the last 19 (74 percent) NLCS have gone at least six games.....That breaks down to seven that went the full seven games and seven that were decided in six games.

CLOSE ONES: Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Cardinals have posted a 24-18 record against the Astros (including postseason)...

Here's a breakdown of the two clubs against each other since the beginning of 2004.

 St. LouisHouston
Runs 190184
Hits378 369
Home Runs 50 47
ERA 3.794.39


RBI MACHINE: Reggie Sanders has driven in at least two runs in each of his last four games, setting a postseason record...The old record had been three consecutive multiple-RBI games, done 17 times by 17 players (courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau).

BLAST OFF: A total of 19 home runs have been hit in the NLCS opener in the last four years...Last year Houston and St. Louis hit a combined five homers in the first game...The Cubs and Marlins combined for six in 2003 at Wrigley Field.

THRU THE GATES:

Here is a game-by-game report on this year's NLCS attendance, net gate and players' pool.

HOU vs. STL AttendanceNet GatePlayer Pool
Game One @STL52,3322,559,019.761,535,411.86
Game Two @STL   
Game Three @HOU   
Game Four @HOU   
Game Five @HOU   
Game Six @STL   
Game Seven @STL   


DIVISION SERIES TOTALS:

Below are the final figures from the National League Division Series.

SD vs. STL AttendanceNet GatePlayer Pool
Game One @STL52,3491,468,537.53881,122.52
Game Two @STL52,5991,475,374.84885,224.90
Game Three @SD45,0932,063,579.001,238,147.40


ATL vs. HOU AttendanceNet GatePlayer Pool
Game One @ATL40,5901,023,888.89614,333.33
Game Two @ATL46,1811,165,296.15699,178.89
Game Three @HOU43,7591,397,145.00838,287.30
Game Four @HOU43,4171,383,020.79--


GAME ONE RECAP
 123456789RHELOB
HOUSTON0000002013706
ST. LOUIS21002000X5814


FIRST PITCH/TEMP: 7:29/ 68 DEGREES HOME RUNS: SANDERS (1), BURKE (1)

WINNING PITCHER: CHRIS CARPENTER (1-0)

LOSING PITCHER: ANDY PETTITTE (0-1) TIME: 2:29

SAVE: JASON ISRINGHAUSEN (1) ATTENDANCE: 52,332 (SELLOUT)

COLONEL SANDERS LEADS THE WAY: Reggie Sanders has knocked in 12 runs in his first four games of this postseason... Sanders' first inning bomb was also his first in 20 career LCS games...Reggie has also knocked in at least one run in 10 straight games dating back to the regular season (a total of 22 RBI). ZERO TOLERANCE: Chris Carpenter tossed 12.0 straight scoreless frames this postseason before surrendering the tworun home run to Chris Burke in the seventh inning.

PETTITTE IN THE POSTSEASON: The start by Andy Pettitte was the 32nd of his career in the postseason, tied for most among active pitchers along with Tom Glavine...Andy also had his five game LCS winning streak come to an end...The five runs allowed by Pettitte were also the most in his postseason career since surrendering six on Novemer 3rd in Game Six of the 2001 World Series in a 15-2 loss vs. Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

SHORT AND SWEET: Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein has gone 7-for-17 in his first four games of this postseason...Eckstein finished second among all major leaguers in hits from August 1 thru the remainder of the regular season with a total of 79...San Francisco's Randy Winn had a major league high 83 base knocks in that time period. FIRST AND FOREMOST: Houston and St. Louis have scored a combined 19 first-inning runs in the last two NLCS...The only game neither team scored a run in the first inning came in Game Five in Houston before Jeff Kent broke a 0-0 game with a three-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

THE POWER OF ONE: The winner of Game One of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series in each of the last 12 years...The 1991 Atlanta Braves were the last team to lose Game One of the NLCS but still advance to the World Series.

BIRDS OF PREY: The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 16-0 in the first four innings of this postseason.

WELCOME HOME: The home team has won each game played between these two clubs in the last two NLCS...In addition, the Cardinals have won nine straight games at Busch Stadium in the LCS and Division Series rounds of the playoffs (their last home loss in the first two rounds of the playoffs came in Game Two of the 2002 NLCS vs. San Francisco).

PINCH ME: Houston's Chris Burke has homered in his last two at bats this postseason...In addition to Wednesday, his 18th inning walkoff home run Sunday afternoon vs. Atlanta ended the Division Series...Burke's pinch-hit blast was the 11th in NLCS history...It was also the third pinch hit homer by an Astro in postseason play (also Mike Lamb in Game One of the 2004 NLCS and Daryle Ward in Game Three of the 2001 NL Division Series).

HOW MAY I ASSIST YOU: Mark Grudzielanek's eight assists tied a NLCS record for assists by a second baseman in a nine inning game...Grudzielanek also had eight assists as a member of the Chicago Cubs on October 8, 2003...Philadelphia's Manny Trillo also recorded eight assists on October 7, 1980.