HOUSTON -- President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, are regulars at Minute Maid Park in April and May, before they retreat to their home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for the summer.

But the Bushes had no intention of missing a chance to watch their beloved Astros in the postseason, and they arrived to downtown Houston about an hour before Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

"We just got in town 40 minutes ago," Mrs. Bush said. "We have not even been home yet."

The Bushes, close friends of Astros owner Drayton McLane, sit directly behind home plate in the Diamond Club seats when they attend games, and Saturday was no exception. The former First Lady, armed with her scorecard, sat in her seat while her husband stepped onto the field to say hello to the two NLCS managers, Houston's Phil Garner and St. Louis' Tony La Russa.

Bush has a long-standing friendship with La Russa, but firmly stated where his loyalties are during this series.

"I think we're going to do it this year," Bush said, referring to the Astros. "I think we're going to be in the World Series. I see my dear friend Tony La Russa. I'm not sure he would agree with that conclusion.

"Tony knows that I love the guy, but I can't cheer for him."

Although the Bushes have been away from Houston for five months, they kept track of the Astros throughout the season and were able to catch a number of games on television. Barbara Bush is picking the Astros to win the NLCS, and she was glad to hear her husband felt the same way.

"He should, if he wants to come home," Barbara Bush said.