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Notes: Pettitte's knee still sore

Notes: Pettitte's knee still sore

ST. LOUIS -- Andy Pettitte played catch prior to the start of batting practice on Thursday, and although his knee is still sore, the Astros aren't worried that his injury will prevent him from making his next start.

Pettitte took a line drive from Roy Oswalt off the inside of his right knee during batting practice Wednesday. Initially, Pettitte appeared to be fine, but his knee swelled considerably prior to his Game 1 start versus the Cardinals.

Pettitte refused to blame the freak accident on his poor outing, but it was clear he was struggling during his six innings, during which he allowed five runs.

"I didn't think it would be a factor," manager Phil Garner said of the injury. "But I think it probably was a factor.

"Initially, part of the problem was he was having trouble raising his front leg. Andy has to raise his front leg -- that's part of his rhythm."

Following his light throwing session Thursday, Pettitte retreated to the training room and did not particpate in batting practice. His next start is scheduled for Game 5 in Houston on Monday.

"He looks a lot better today," general manager Tim Purpura said. "His leg is certainly not as sore as it was last night. The first thing he told me was, 'I'll be ready for my start.'"

"If I could go out and pitch yesterday, I can make my next start, trust me," Pettitte said.

South Side controversy: The ending to the White Sox-Angels game on Wednesday was one of the hot button issues at Busch Stadium prior to Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. Everyone was talking about the controversial call that extended the bottom of the ninth and eventually led to a White Sox win.

The issue was whether, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and no one on, Angels catcher Josh Paul had trapped a 3-2 pitch to A.J. Pierzynski, who swung and missed for the final out. Umpire Doug Eddings signaled a third strike, but said he never told Paul that the batter was out.

Paul rolled the ball back to the mound and Pierzynski hustled to first base, where he was ruled safe.

Houston catcher Brad Ausmus said he saw both sides of the issue.

"I think, in Josh Paul's mind, there is no question, and the replay seems to show he caught the ball," Ausmus said. "I understand why he assumed the batter was out. By the same token, he did reach down toward the ground, and the umpire's behind him, so [Eddings] can't tell for sure if the ball hit the dirt or not."

The way to avoid the confusion, of course, is for the catcher to simply tag the batter to ensure the third out is official. Ausmus does this regularly, just to be sure.

"If in my mind, I think it's close, I'm going to tag him or throw the ball to first," Ausmus said. "Or [I'll] turn around and look at the umpire, show him the ball and get a definitive out call."

Garner agreed.

"If it's anywhere close to being questionable, just tag the runner," he said. "Reach up and tag him and take the umpire out of it. It's so simple, but we don't do it all of the time."

Viz vs. Izz: The question many wanted to know after the Astros' 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday was: where was Jeff Bagwell?

With runners on second and third and two outs in the ninth, Garner turned to Jose Vizcaino to pinch-hit, but the game ended quickly when Vizcaino grounded to first.

Garner used Vizcaino in that situation because of the veteran infielder's career numbers against Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen: five hits in 12 at-bats for a .417 average.

Twelve at-bats usually isn't enough of a sampling to convince Garner that a hitter has a good history against a particular pitcher, but in this case, he was confident Vizcaino had the best chance of any of his bench players to log a hit against Isringhausen.

"I like 25 [at-bats], or over 20 at-bats," Garner said. "But if you're 5- or 6-for-12 or 13 off a guy, you're doing something."

Had Vizcaino and leadoff man Craig Biggio reached base, Garner would have used Bagwell to pinch-hit for No. 2 hitter Willy Taveras.

Going to the Hall: Shaun Dean, who caught both home run balls hit by Lance Berkman and Chris Burke during Sunday's 18-inning marathon win, will present the balls to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum during the Astros' workout at Minute Maid Park on Friday.

Following the presentation, Dean and his family will be the Astros' guests of honor at the team's workout. For his generosity, Dean will be given four Dugout Box tickets to the Astros' NLCS Game 3 on Saturday [Oct. 15) against the Cardinals, as well as other gifts to be announced.

Dean was sitting in the left-field Crawford Boxes on Sunday when he caught Berkman's grand slam in the eighth inning and Burke's game-winning solo shot in the 18th. The game, which took five hours and 50 minutes to complete, was the longest postseason contest in Major League history.

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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