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Chess Match: Pads' moves don't work

Chess Match: Pads' moves don't work

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SAN DIEGO -- St. Louis' Tony La Russa and San Diego's Bruce Bochy are going toe-to-toe in the first round for the second straight year. With the Cardinals' pitching questions and the Padres' offensive challenges, the skippers could play a major role in who moves on to the National League Championship Series.

Left out

The situation: The Padres were facing right-handed Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver, against whom left-handers batted .340 this season and right-handers .294.

The decision: Bochy stacked the lineup with left-handed and switch hitters, starting Todd Walker at second base over Josh Barfield and Josh Bard behind the plate over Mike Piazza. The only right-handed hitter in the lineup was center fielder Mike Cameron.

The outcome: Cameron had one of the two Padres hits off Weaver in five scoreless innings, and Walker couldn't get a handle after a slick sliding stop of Jim Edmonds' two-out ground ball in the fourth, which went into the books as an RBI single. Would Barfield -- the regular starter during the regular season -- have made the play? Would it have affected the outcome?

This is going to hurt

The situation: Runner on second base, no outs and the teams locked in a scoreless tie in the fourth inning.

The decision: Padres starter David Wells opted not to pitch around Albert Pujols, who is 3-for-9 against him in regular-season matchups.

The outcome: Wells got ahead, 0-and-2, then narrowly missed a called third strike, according to home-plate umpire Bill Welke. After another ball away, Wells caught too much of the plate with a 2-and-2 pitch and Pujols dumped it into left field for a 1-0 Cards lead. Bochy said later he would have to re-examine the way his team is going after Pujols, but the San Diego offense appears to be a bigger concern.

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Shut it down

The situation: After Cardinals reliever Tyler Johnson struck out the first two batters of the eighth inning, Barfield, who entered the game in the sixth, was due to hit.

The decision: La Russa turned to his rookie closer, Adam Wainwright, for a four-out save.

The outcome: It got hairy for a moment when Barfield yanked a double into the left-field corner. But Wainwright then retired Adrian Gonzalez on a groundout, then retired the Padres 1-2-3 in the ninth and struck out the final two hitters he faced. Wainwright and fellow rookie relievers Johnson and Josh Kinney are giving La Russa reason to feel good about his bullpen.

Adam McCalvy 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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