Cardinals manager Tony La Russa participated in an interview following Sunday's 5-4 win over the Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
Q. You guys were down 4-0 to one of the best postseason pitchers right now. What does it say about your team, or what was the attitude as you guys were going through that game?
La Russa: Well, I mean, we were not happy because it's -- we know who he is, how he pitches, the team he pitches in front of. But we keep things real simple. We just are going to play nine, come [heck] or high water. The club has been so consistent about that.
I said before, if you watch us play a lot of times, we're not perfect, but we try to be perfect. In baseball, you get a base hit there and put a ball in play, good things happen.
Q. When you saw that Chris was struggling a little bit, were you OK with him starting for the first time on three days' rest in his career, can you evaluate his performance a little bit and whether you thought what he was doing or not doing to be effective?
La Russa: I think it should be obvious. To make a decision like that, Dave [Duncan] and I gave it a lot of thought. We've been around a long time, we know the risks. But you know, you have to prove to your team that you're going to take your best shot. If we would have won Game 1, maybe it would have changed it. But you can't leave here with the caliber of Lee out there and not put Carp out there. We had the perfect chance because of the really good game he pitched. So we were going to watch him, and we always watch him close, and we were not going to let him get to a place where he was real labored. But there was a couple there just missing. They're so explosive, he did a good job with getting out with what he did.
But at one point we just tied, I said, Dave, I feel good, he's not going to be the losing pitcher. We care that much about him.
Q. In the telecast you expressed some frustration about the strike zone. Can you expand on that? How big of an impact was that early in the game?
La Russa: Well, I don't think there's a manager around, coach, that doesn't watch the game and think about how you want it to be. You know, we care. I care, our team cares, and it's not a great comment to make, but I was upset. I've never had a problem with Jerry before, ever. The only thing I had a problem with -- one of the things, you go out there, whatever the strike zone is, it makes no difference to us, we'll adjust to it. That was my only point, he had to figure out what the strike zone was.
Q. You shuffled your bullpen a lot during the course of the season. Tonight every move you made worked. Just comment on the bullpen's effort tonight.
La Russa: You know, I think ... I mean, this is a players' game. The guys are put in tough situations because Carp left early; Salas was the seventh-, eighth-, ninth-inning pitcher, and he pitched early because he was rested and he has the ability to get right and lefts. Any one of those guys does not do the job, you know, we're not going to win the game.
At the end, Motte had to get four outs for a save. So it was just a matter of it's the playoffs, we're off tomorrow, you put the guys out there, and they came through. I mean, what Boggs did on Pence, Arthur striking out, Howard, I mean, they were heros all the way through the bullpen.
Q. Can you just speak to your seven and eight hitters in the lineup tonight really had their fingerprints all over it? Speak to the impact they had.
La Russa: If you watch us play, it happens so often that you expect it. That's one of our assets. I know we had a good year hitting this year as far as runs scored, and the reason is that we tried out eight tough outs. Guys take a lot of pride in competing, and it's a compliment, really, to the gentlemen that started yesterday and the gentlemen that started today. These guys are great competitors.
We know we're going to face Hamels and Oswalt, so we just try to compete as hard as they're going to compete against us. You got eight guys doing it, and we're never surprised when any part of the batting order does it. It happens often.
Q. People said, 'Why Lohse in the first game, why Carp pitching with three days' rest?' And it seems like this is really a pivotal game, now you go home with Garcia coming against this ballclub, am I right?
La Russa: Well, Lohse or him will start. I mean, if we hadn't had to use Carp on Wednesday, he would have pitched Friday I mean, Saturday. But Lohse, he did a good job yesterday. He made two bad pitches and gave up five runs, give credit to the Phillies. But like I said, it's tough.
Q. Now you're in pretty good shape with Garcia going against this ballclub, right?
La Russa: Yeah, we've got Garcia and then probably Edwin pitches Game 4. I said when I came here before the game started, I hope it comes down to Halladay and Carpenter. I mean, that would be an experience of a lifetime for any of us.
But we're making it a series, which is fun, exciting, and Garcia we expect to pitch well. I think Jackson will pitch well. But I know the other two guys are going to pitch well, too. It's fun to play against these guys.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.