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CARDINALS HOPE BATS WAKE UP AT HOME <br> PEDRO, SOX COULD PUT ST. LOUIS IN 0-3 HOLE

The water in the fountains of the downtown plaza near Busch Stadium has been dyed Cardinal red. "Go Cardinals" signs pop up along the 20-mile ride from the airport and adorn virtually every skyscraper in the shadow of the Gateway Arch.

But all the Big Red madness here will quickly end this week unless the St. Louis Cardinals find a way to put some spark into their offense.

The World Series moved to the Midwest Monday, and the Cardinals will host the Boston Red Sox here tonight trying to avoid falling into a 3-0 deficit. That, of course, would mean almost certain extinction in the Fall Classic, but this year, at least, memories of Boston's four-game comeback against the Yankees would probably give St. Louis a sliver of hope.

"You've got to personalize everything," manager Tony La Russa said Monday as his team went through an optional workout. "We played like champions all year. One thing about being a champion is when you get down, you've got to get back into it."

That won't be easy tonight with Pedro Martinez on the mound for Boston. St. Louis was one of the game's best road teams during the regular season at 52-29 and, in fact, hit 28 more home runs on the road than at pitcher-friendly Busch. But things have been quite different in the postseason.

St. Louis is 6-0 at home, batting .311 and scoring 7.2 runs per game. On the road, the Cardinals are just 1-6 with a .197 average and 3.4 runs. And keep in mind they collected nine runs on 11 hits in the Fenway opener.

But that's the only road playoff game in which they had at least 10 hits. Game Two was one of five contests the offense has been held to five hits or less, and St. Louis has been shut out twice.

"It's good pitching," said Boston closer Keith Foulke, who has pitched nine scoreless outings in the postseason. "It's not a secret. Good pitching tends to shut down good hitting. That's been the way of this game for a hundred years."

St. Louis is batting just .239 in the first two games but Larry Walker and Albert Pujols have combined to go 7 for 16. That means the rest of the team is hitting just .176.

Third baseman Scott Rolen is 0 for 8 in the series, continuing his postseason struggles. He's hitting just .184 under the October spotlight after setting career highs in average, home runs and RBIs (.314-34-124) during the regular season.

"Rolen is one of the game's great competitors," La Russa said. "Nothing will stop Scott from competing. Any at-bat he can be clutch."

Tonight's St. Louis starter, Jeff Suppan, had a strong outing in Game Seven of the NLCS against Houston but will need some help from his offense against Martinez. The Cardinals are 0 for 10 with two outs and runners in scoring position the first two games. None of the big boppers were around Monday to explain their lack of production; Red Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace hopes they remain quiet.

Asked for the secret to his team's success, Wallace simply knocked on the wood portion of his clubhouse locker.

"Luck. Total luck," Wallace said. "Those guys are very, very good. Are you kidding? It's a tremendous lineup. They've had better swings than people think."

"We were really good on the road until the postseason," said St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen. "We took advantage of people's mistakes. We know we can play with them. We just haven't had the two-out hits like we had in the regular season. We know they have to come."

The Red Sox have won six straight postseason games, equaling the franchise record set in 1915 and 1916. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have lost eight straight Series road games, second all-time to the 14 straight dropped by the Washington/Minnesota franchise in 1925, 1933, 1965, 1987 and 1991.

La Russa said he may try to kick-start his lineup tonight by re-inserting Tony Womack to leadoff. That will be predicated largely on Womack's health; he's been fighting back spasms and then took a wicked bad-hop grounder off the collarbone in Game One.

The Cardinals' offense has been so feeble that the Red Sox have managed to win the first two games despite making four errors in each. In fact, the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN.com reported Monday no one has done that -- in the postseason or the regular season -- since the Baltimore Orioles won back-to-back four-error affairs on May 28-29, 1986.

The Sox also broke a 95-year-old record for most errors in the first two games of a World Series, set by the 1909 Tigers (seven).

"I hope they do it again," La Russa said. "It would sure help us. If they do, we'll win one at some point."
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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