Notes: Pujols ready to move on
Slugger focuses on winning Game 6 on Wednesday
ST. LOUIS -- By Tuesday afternoon, Albert Pujols was tired of talking about his game-winning home run from Monday night's National League Championship Series Game 5. Unfortunately for Pujols, he was the only one.
"It was probably the best hit of my career, but like I said, this is over, so let's talk about tomorrow and what we need to do to try to get a win and push it to Thursday," Pujols told reporters after the Cardinals worked out at Busch Stadium. "That happened last night. It's over. You need to get it over with and concentrate and stay focused and do whatever I can to help my team out to win tomorrow."
When asked again about the home run shortly thereafter, Pujols was more emphatic.
"Oh my God. Can you guys ... talk about anything else? It's getting old. I'm bored, man. It's over. It's just another win. A big win for us, facing elimination, we get a big win. It's big. But we've got two more to go to win and get back to the World Series."
Fortunately for those who wanted to relive the amazing moment, plenty of Pujols' teammates were happy to revisit it. Manager Tony La Russa compared the home run to Dave Henderson's classic dinger in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series, a home run that sent the Red Sox on their way to the pennant.
"I think it's tied for first with the most dramatic home runs that have ever been hit," La Russa said. "If you're talking about drama, you might play off the fact, you look at a World Series winner like [Bill] Mazeroski or [Joe] Carter -- home run and you're world champion. That's really dramatic. But so is [the fact] that we're playing tomorrow and we're not done playing. So Dave Henderson and Albert Pujols. That will be played forever."
Closer Jason Isringhausen hopes that fans around the U.S. are starting to get a feel for what Pujols can do.
"There's a lot of people throughout the country probably watching that game who hadn't watched him that much throughout the year," said Isringhausen. "We see him every day, so we know what he's capable of doing, but for people that watched for the first time, you see him do that against one of the best closers in baseball, it's pretty special."
Good news on Nunie: The Cardinals expect Abraham Nunez to start in Game 6 on Wednesday. Nunez missed two games with a left quadriceps contusion after he collided with the Astros' Jason Lane on a play at third base in Game 3.
"Tomorrow, if it feels as good or better, I'm good to go," Nunez said Tuesday.
Said La Russa: "I think he's going to start. I know he worked out. I watched some of it. Unless I go in there and find out something that wasn't obvious, I expect him to start."
John Mabry got the call at third against right-hander Brandon Backe in Game 4, while Hector Luna played against lefty Andy Pettitte in Game 5.
He knows the feeling: Isringhausen knows where Lidge is coming from. One year ago Tuesday, Isringhausen served up a heartbreaking three-run homer himself. After 8 1/2 innings of scoreless ball between the Cardinals and Astros in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS at Minute Maid Park, Jeff Kent hit a three-run walk-off job against Isringhausen to give Houston the series lead.
"I've been there," Isringhausen said. "I walked off their field last year in Game 5. I know good and well what he's going through. But it's the playoffs. So you go out there the next day and you get the next save and you don't worry about what happened before."
Isringhausen pitched three innings in Game 6 of that series, suffering a blown save in the ninth but holding Houston to one run. He pitched a perfect ninth for the save in Game 7.
Lend a hand: Cardinals fans attending Game 6 and a potential Game 7 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium will have the opportunity to join baseball fans in the other postseason markets, along with Major League Baseball, in helping Habitat for Humanity rebuild the Gulf Coast areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Habitat for Humanity volunteers will be stationed inside Busch Stadium gates as fans enter for Game 6 on Wednesday and, if needed, Game 7 on Thursday. All donations will help Major League Baseball and Habitat for Humanity build new housing in the Gulf Coast areas.
History lesson: The Cardinals' win on Monday made them the 15th team in baseball history to win Game 5 on the road in a best-of-seven series when facing elimination. If history is any guide, the odds are still against the Cards, but if they can win Game 6, things turn dramatically in their favor.
Of the previous 14 teams to come home after staving off elimination on the road in Game 5, five have won the series. The 14 teams went 7-7 in Game 6 at home, but those who forced a Game 7 went 5-2 in those games.
Arizona update: Cory Doyne had another rough outing for the Surprise Scorpions in a 9-2 Arizona Fall League loss to the Peoria Saguaros on Monday. Doyne was charged with three runs in 1 2/3 innings, as he allowed three hits and three walks. His ERA climbed to 16.62. Travis Hanson doubled and scored a run for Surprise, and Gabe Johnson went 0-for-4.
Coming up: Wednesday's first pitch is set for 7:28 p.m. CT, with Mark Mulder taking the mound against Roy Oswalt. The game will be carried nationally on FOX, and the broadcast time is 7 p.m. Mulder is 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA this postseason, and 3-3 with a 1.91 ERA in the playoffs for his career.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.