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Notes: Delgado a thorn in Cards' side

Notes: Delgado a thorn in Cards' side

ST. LOUIS -- It's not that the Cardinals don't want to come inside on Mets slugger Carlos Delgado. It's that they've tried to, and have not succeeded.

Virtually every big hit by Delgado in the National League Championship Series has gone to left field -- the opposite field for the left-handed slugger. And there have been plenty of big hits, including six for extra bases. But according to the Cardinals, the fix is not to change the approach. It's to execute the approach.

"We have not made good pitches to him," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "What we've got to do is we've got to control counts better when he's hitting. We haven't done that. We haven't gotten any offspeed pitches over the plate to him. When we have, we've gotten him out. We have to execute better. That's a tough lineup."

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Delgado has done much of his damage on pitches over the middle of the plate or the outside part of the plate. It hasn't necessarily been a strategy to stay outside on the Mets slugger, though.

"I think you've got to make better pitches," said manager Tony La Russa. "But also, when you have hitters of that quality, you can't go to one area all the time. Because he's hit .300 [at times] in his career with home runs. A .300 hitter means there's no real hole. You've just got to keep trying to stay ahead of him. Sometimes they get ahead of you.

"But if you make a bad pitch, when you have the right pitch called but you have bad location, they're going to get you."

Carp moves on: Chris Carpenter headed east in advance of his teammates, catching a flight to New York before Tuesday's game. The right-hander will start Game 6 of the NLCS on Wednesday night at Shea Stadium.

Carpenter threw a bullpen session between starts in an attempt to correct a mechanical flaw in his breaking ball. Duncan was pleased with what he saw from his ace.

"His bullpen session was a good session," Duncan said. "He wasn't happy with the command of his offspeed pitches in the game the other day, and he felt like it would be important for him to get a little bit better feel for it, and that's what we worked on."

La Russa expressed complete confidence when asked whether he expected Carpenter to fare better than in his previous start. In Game 2, Carpenter was touched for five runs in five innings.

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"Wouldn't you be?" La Russa responded. "There's nobody in the Major Leagues that's a better pitcher than Chris Carpenter. Whoever your choice as the best, he's in that category."

Edmonds in: Center fielder Jim Edmonds came through Sunday night's Game 4 just fine. He was in the lineup for Game 5 on Monday before the rainout, and again on Tuesday. Edmonds ran into the wall on a catch on Sunday night, but was cleared by the training staff.

"He came in and I read the report, because he gets checked after the game, and he said he felt all right," La Russa said.

Every time Edmonds has an impact, the Cards worry a bit, because of the post-concussion syndrome that plagued him in the second half of the season. But the greater day-to-day issue is a foot injury, diagnosed as metatarsalgia. The condition causes pain at the joint where the toes meet the rest of the foot.

Tough competition: La Russa was impressed by the Cubs' introduction of Lou Piniella as their new manager. Piniella, like La Russa, hails from Tampa, and the two have known each other for quite a long time.

"They replaced a great manager with a great manager," La Russa said. "I think Dusty [Baker] is a great manager, and I think Lou is a great manager. So the managing part of that franchise is taken care of. And it has been taken care of.

"I'm not sure that there's a lot of difference in personality. Dusty's very close to his players, and Lou gets very close to his players. From what I know of both of them, there's a lot more similarity between the two guys than differences."

This date in Cardinals history: On Oct. 17, 2005, Albert Pujols had the most memorable, if not the biggest, hit of his career. After going 0-for-4 over the first eight innings of Game 5 of the NLCS, Pujols silenced Minute Maid Park. Trailing, 4-2, with two outs in the ninth, David Eckstein scratched out a single against Astros closer Brad Lidge. Edmonds drew a walk, and Pujols hit a mammoth home run that delivered a 5-4 win over the Astros and sent the series back to Busch Stadium for a sixth game.

Coming up: Game 6 is set for Wednesday at Shea Stadium. Carpenter will try to make it seven Cardinals wins in his seven career postseason starts when he takes the mound for the visitors. Pitching for the Mets will be rookie John Maine. First pitch is set for 7:19 p.m. CT.

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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