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Chess Match: Hot corner hunch pays off

Chess Match: Hunch pays off

ST. LOUIS -- The Padres finally broke through, winning Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Saturday to stay alive against the Cardinals. It was another day of veteran managers Bruce Bochy and Tony La Russa going toe-to-toe.

Play a hunch

The situation: Bochy said Friday he would consider starting Khalil Greene, who has been sidelined by a finger injury, at shortstop. That would have likely sent Geoff Blum from shortstop to third base and Russell Branyan, who is 2-for-12 in regular season at-bats against Cards starter Jeff Suppan, from third base to the bench.

The decision: Concerned about Greene's readiness, Bochy stuck with Blum at short and Branyan at third.

The outcome: Branyan snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run double off Suppan in the fourth inning, went to third on the throw to the infield and scored on Blum's sacrifice fly. It was just enough for the Padres, who went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Stand by your man

The situation: Two on, one out in the sixth inning and the Padres leading, 3-0.

The decision: Bochy went to the mound for a chat with starter Chris Young, who had just walked No. 2 hitter Chris Duncan to bring dangerous slugger Albert Pujols to the plate. Bochy stuck with the 27-year-old Young instead of dipping into a well-rested bullpen.

The outcome: Young struck out Pujols on an 89-mph fastball, getting him to chase up in the zone for the second consecutive at-bat. Young then retired Jim Edmonds on a fly ball to deep left field to end the inning.

Little big man

The situation: Cardinals trailing in the bottom of the eighth, 3-0, and the pitcher's spot due to lead off against Padres left-hander Alan Embree.

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The decision: With John Rodriguez, So Taguchi and Preston Wilson available off the bench, La Russa sent right-handed-hitting Taguchi to the on-deck circle, prompting Bochy to counter with tough right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink. But instead of countering the counter with lefty Rodriguez, La Russa stuck with Taguchi.

The outcome: Taguchi, who hit two home runs in 316 regular-season at-bats, lined a homer to left field to put the Cardinals on the board. He stayed in the game as the left fielder.

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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