La Russa trotted out a lineup for Game 7 of the National League Championship Series that will look fairly familiar to anyone who watched the Cardinals in the second half of 2006. Facing Mets left-hander Oliver Perez on Thursday night, the only real tweak from the typical look was that La Russa flipped Yadier Molina and Ronnie Belliard. Molina will bat seventh and Belliard eighth.
"Molina's had a lot of success against him, a lot of success against Perez," La Russa said. "He's swinging the bat well. And you get Belliard's speed in front of the pitcher."
The skipper said he was unhappy with the way his team swung the bats on Wednesday night.
"I really was not pleased at all with the way we competed at the plate yesterday," La Russa said. "And I gave serious thought to what that should mean for today's lineup, and then you see what I came up with."
Preston Wilson got the call in left field and the No. 2 spot in the batting order, as he normally does against lefties. Juan Encarnacion was slated to start in right field and bat cleanup. Jim Edmonds was in the five spot and Scott Rolen was hitting sixth.
"I spent a lot of time last night, early this morning -- this is our last shot to win this series -- trying to figure out what's the best lineup," said La Russa. "I've played around with a bunch of them and that's mostly how I spent my time."
La Russa said he considered a wide range of possibilities, including starting So Taguchi in center field and getting Scott Spiezio into the lineup, but ultimately settled with the familiar breakdown.
One final consideration was the availability of shortstop and leadoff man David Eckstein, who felt some fatigue in his sprained left shoulder in Wednesday's Game 6. But after pregame workouts, Eckstein was deemed fit and remained in the lineup.
Not looking ahead, but ... The always-superstitious La Russa was unnerved a bit by a pregame question about his World Series starting rotation. Nonetheless, he gave some indication as to how he would operate if the Cards are to advance to play Detroit.
Jeff Weaver, it seems, would not start the opener on short rest. Instead, it would be either Anthony Reyes, who allowed two runs in four innings in Game 4 of the NLCS, or Jason Marquis, who was left off the NLCS roster.
"We've talked a little bit about it," he said after some hemming and hawing. "It would be Jason or Anthony. That's the question."
Minor moves: The Cardinals have made a few moves on their 40-man roster in advance of the Minor League free agency deadline. St. Louis added right-handed pitcher Andy Cavazos to the 40-man, and removed catcher Mike Rose and infielder John Nelson.
This date in Cardinals history: On Oct. 19, 2005, the Cardinals played their final game in old Busch Stadium. In a disappointing finish for the ballpark, Mark Mulder and the Redbirds lost to Roy Oswalt and the Astros, 5-1, in Game 6 of the NLCS.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.