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Cards chart course starting with Weaver

Cards map out plan starting with Weaver

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ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Weaver never pondered heading west. He had no desire to go back home to Southern California. Even given Weaver's less-than-sunny memories of New York, that's where he wanted to go all along.

Weaver would have started Monday's Game 5 of the Cardinals' National League Division Series against the Padres, but such a game will not happen. Instead, he's the likely starter in the opener of the NL Championship Series at Shea Stadium on Wednesday.

Asked if there was any discussion of going out to San Diego in advance of a possible Game 5, Weaver said no way. It was absolutely the right move, as Weaver got to partake of his second champagne celebration in a week. Now he'll make the biggest start of his career -- the first LCS start in his eight years in the Majors.

Never mind that New York features a fearsome lineup, a team that knocked Weaver around in August. He just wants the ball.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "They're a powerhouse and they've got all the momentum with them. So we're going to try to go in there and make our mark, too."

Had the Cards closed out the Division Series in three games, ace Chris Carpenter could have been held back for the opener of the NLCS. Instead, Carpenter went in Game 4 of the Division Series on Sunday night. Weaver, who would have pitched on short rest in San Diego, now will get five days' rest when he returns to Shea.

Beyond that, the expectation is that Jeff Suppan will pitch in Game 2 on Thursday, with Carpenter taking the mound at home in Game 3 on Saturday.

"That's probably what we'll do," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "I don't know that we have any alternatives."

The question is about Sunday's Game 4, with Anthony Reyes and Jason Marquis the likely contenders. Duncan acknowledged there is a decision to be made. But in the midst of the celebration, he figured it wasn't quite time to make it, or at least to announce the choice. One thing Duncan did say: The Cards have no designs on starting Carpenter on short rest.

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Weaver had some rough times in New York as a member of the Yankees, and most recently he was charged with five runs in five innings at Shea on Aug. 22. The right-hander didn't get a decision in that game, but a four-run fifth against him allowed the Mets to get back into a game that had been a blowout. St. Louis went on to lose, 8-7.

Shortly thereafter, however, Weaver turned things around. In seven starts since, including Game 2 of the Division Series, he has allowed more than three runs only once. Weaver was the starting pitcher in four of the Cards' last eight regular-season wins. So he'll be thinking about recent success, rather than less recent struggles.

"You've got to have a short-term memory in baseball," he said. "You put things behind you as quick as possible. Once the season was over, that's what we did. We didn't listen to anything that anybody had to say. We're starting to get some momentum, and hopefully we can carry it to the next series."

Matthew Leach 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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