TONIGHT: St. Louis hosts Houston in Game One of the 36th National League Championship Series...The two clubs are meeting in the NLCS for the second straight season...Last year the Cardinals advanced to the World Series after beating the Astros four games to three in the LCS...St. Louis enters tonight's game with a six game winning streak dating back to the regular season after sweeping San Diego 3-0 in the Division Series (the Cards also won the final three games of the regular season against Cincinnati at Busch Stadium)...The Astros beat Atlanta 3-1 in their best-of-five series, which included a LCS-clinching 7-6 18-inning win Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park in the longest game in postseason history in both innings (18) and time (5:50).

SERIES-LY SPEAKING: St. Louis went 11-5 against Houston in 2005 (6-2 at home and 5-3 on the road)...The Cards won 10 straight games against Houston (including playoffs) at home from October 13, 2004 thru July 17, 2005 before the Astros swept a two game series here September 27-28.

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.
• The winner of Game One has advanced to the next round 25 times.
• Of the previous 35 NLCS, the home team has won the series opener 18 times and the road team has won it 17 times.
• In the three times St. Louis has won Game One of the NLCS, the Cards have gone on to advance to the World Series (2004 vs. Houston, 1982 vs. Atlanta & 1987 vs. San Francisco).
• Houston is 1-2 in Game One of the NLCS...In addition to losing last year against St. Louis, the Astros also lost to Philadelphia in 1980...Houston's lone Game One win came in 1986 against the Mets in a 1-0 shutout.

ANDY JUST DANDY IN OCTOBER: Tonight's starter, Andy Pettitte, ranks second all-time with 14 career postseason wins...The only pitcher with more victories in the postseason is Atlanta's John Smoltz with 15...Pettitte is 6-1 all-time in nine career LCS starts (all with the New York Yankees) and has won each of his last five LCS decisions since a 6-1 setback (4.2ip/6er) against Cleveland's Bartolo Colon in Game Three of the ALCS on October 9, 1998 at Jacobs Field.
• Pettitte's six LCS wins are tied for second-most all-time along with John Smoltz...Dave Stewart won a LCS-record eight wins during his career.
• Pettitte's five game LCS winning streak is also tied with Juan Guzman for the second-longest winning streak in LCS play...Dave Stewart went 8-0 in his LCS career.

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.

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).

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 won every game last year in the NLCS, making it 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).

COUNTING ON CHRIS: Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter finished second in the National League with 21 wins this year behind Florida's Dontrelle Willis, who had a league-leading 22 victories...Carpenter is St. Louis' first 20-game winner to pitch in the NLCS since Darryl Kile won 20 games for the 2000 St. Louis club...John Tudor is the last Cardinals 20-game winner to win a game in the NLCS when he did so in Game Four of the 1985 LCS vs. Los Angeles.

Home Field Advantage: The Cardinals have won eight 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, 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. Brothers In Arms: Between the three of them, the Molina brothers (Bengie, Jose and Yadier) have gone a combined 13-for-36 (.361) with nine RBI this postseason...Bengie Molina is leading all players with nine hits and also has a postseason-high tying three home runs for the Angels along with teammate Garret Anderson. Oh to skipper Japan's World Baseball Classic team: Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Manager Sadaharu Oh is set to skipper Japan's baseball team in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) officials said.

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