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TAVAREZ CONCLUDES 'FINE' DAY WITH TWO SHUTOUT INNINGS

It was just another crazy day in Julian Tavarez's life, the kind of life that probably belongs on a reality TV show.

It started with a $10,000 fine for allegedly throwing at Jeff Bagwell in Game Four of the National League Championship Series and ended with Tavarez throwing two shutout innings to notch the victory in Game Six. Three days earlier, Tavarez imploded in living color, breaking a finger on his left hand after punching a dugout phone following his poor performance in Game Four.

"My daddy always told me, 'If the past is good, bring it to the present. But if it's bad, leave it in the past,' " Tavarez said. "I don't want to see a tape (of my tantrum). I don't want to think about it. I just want to enjoy the win tonight. I think tonight really helped me wash that bad outing and what happened out of my mind."

Earlier, Major League Baseball had fined Tavarez for throwing a pitch behind Bagwell's head in Game Four in Houston.

"The umpire said he threw at (Bagwell) intentionally," Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson said.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa angrily confronted Watson on the field before the game. La Russa's reaction upon hearing the news Wednesday was one of disbelief. He had said after Game Four it was "ridiculous" to think Tavarez would throw at Bagwell in such a crucial situation with the season on the line.

"Well, you talk about precedent," La Russa said. "So when a ball is thrown in that area and gets away, it's $10,000 from now on? They're going to go back and nail guys? That is so ridiculous.

"In that game, he's going to do something like that? I even said it (at the time). I said it looks bad. There are a lot of balls that get thrown out there that don't look good. That (news) better not be true."

After the game, La Russa pointed out that Brad Lidge knocked down Jim Edmonds with a high-and-tight pitch in the ninth inning.

"Every pitch he aimed, he threw it right where he wanted," La Russa said. "He was just trying to get the ball up and in. I didn't have a big problem with that. I just think it's totally unfair."< The Astros arranged their postseason plans to set up Roger Clemens for a date with destiny if the Cardinals pushed them to a Game Seven in this National League Championship Series.

And now, thanks to Jim Edmonds, he will have to keep it.

"How much better does it get?" Edmonds said. "Game Seven against Roger Clemens? I think it's going to be a blast."

"I ain't got nothing to say," Clemens said following the game. "We gotta win. We just gotta win."

The Astros already made history this October by winning a playoff series for the first time. If Clemens can pitch them to a victory tonight, it will end Houston's 42-year World Series drought, second only to its Texas neighbors, the Rangers, who have never made it to the Fall Classic in 44 years.

It will be will Clemens' fourth career start in a Game Seven -- he's 1-0 in those outings after getting knocked out early last year in the ALCS for the Yankees.

"You wouldn't want anyone else on the mound," injured Houston pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "He's been there. There's no doubt that helps."

Jeff Suppan, who led St. Louis with 16 wins this season, will pitch for the Cardinals tonight. Take away his matchups against Clemens and he might've had a few more.

Suppan opposed Clemens three times during the regular season and lost each outing to Houston. They met again in Game Three of the NL championship series and the Astros took that one, too.

Last October, Suppan he was left off Boston's roster for the first round of the playoffs and did not get into a game as the Red Sox lost to New York in the ALCS.

Second baseman Tony Womack singled his first two times up for St. Louis but left after three innings because of lower back spasms. Hector Luna replaced him.

Womack's status for Game Seven was uncertain.

"I think we have to wait to see how he feels," La Russa said.

"He's talking brave and saying he'll be ready. But backs are backs, and they're really kind of finicky."

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