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A Game 3 return for Sanders called '50-50'

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa placed the odds of Reggie Sanders playing in tomorrow afternoon's Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park ''50-50." La Russa received word from the Cardinals' medical staff that Sanders -- who banged into the left-field wall trying to catch Adam Everett's eighth-inning triple last night -- has injuries comparable to someone who has been in a train wreck.

''It's serious, bumped his back, hit his head, and he has some sore spots all over the body. I don't think he broke anything but he's bruised quite a bit all over and we'll see how he feels," La Russa said.

Sanders, 37, who knocked in 10 runs in the Division Series against San Diego and hit a two-run homer in Game 1 of the NLCS, was 1 for 3 in last night's 4-1 loss to the Astros.

La Russa said Sanders will receive treatment but didn't know if Sanders would respond in time to play Game 3. Sanders is expected to be in more pain today, and he also ached from a bump on his head.

Oswalt on the mark

Roy Oswalt allowed only one run in his seven-inning outing, finishing his night by retiring David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds with two aboard. Oswalt wasn't looking over his shoulder to see if manager Phil Garner was going to the bullpen with the meat of the Cardinal order due up. ''I wasn't expecting anyone to come in, but with Edmonds and Albert Pujols on deck, two men on, you've got to get that out," said Oswalt. ''I was able to throw a backdoor slider and [Edmonds] went out to get it and rolled it over. I thought that was the key situation of the game, especially being up, 2-1. Two innings before, they could have blown it wide open with a base hit, and I was able to make a quality pitch at the time. I was pretty pumped up tonight." . . . La Russa didn't get too upset about the possibility the Astros might close the roof at Minute Maid Park to gain an advantage. ''They want to win, don't they? So all is fair as long as it's legal, and it's legal to close the roof," he said . . . Astros closer Brad Lidge, on his two-inning save: ''It was great to come in with a three-run lead as opposed to a one-run lead. You want to stay aggressive knowing you have to throw two innings. You don't want to run your pitch count up too much.". . . Cardinals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek had eight assists in Game 1, tying an NLCS record. He also had eight with the Cubs in 2003.

Pettitte progressing

Lefthander Andy Pettitte, whose right knee swelled after being hit by Oswalt's line drive during batting practice prior to Game 1, ''feels a little sore, but he's better today," said Garner. ''He's going to be fine. I guess I could say the bruise is sort of diffused somewhat so he doesn't have a big hole the size of a watermelon on his knee now; it's spread up his calf and inner thigh a little bit. He's sore but he's just fine. I feel 100 percent that he will be OK to make his next start." Pettitte went six innings and allowed all five Cardinal runs in Wednesday's 5-3 loss.

An instant replay

The topic du jour during pregame of the NLCS was Game 2 of the ALCS and whether there is a need for instant replay in baseball. Garner and La Russa seemed lukewarm on the topic. Asked yesterday what he'd do if Major League Baseball implemented instant replay, Garner said, laughing, ''Well, I wouldn't have a choice. We'd accept it, I guess." However, Garner said his opinion was, ''I'd just as soon do what we do. I realize that there's a certain amount of human element." La Russa was also opposed. ''That's not a close call," he said. ''One, I think the umpires, by a great majority of them, get it right. And plus, there's an issue of time of game, and we're going to slow it down, and get into instant replay? That's not consistent with what we're trying to do."

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