Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

La Russa Finally Finds a Lineup He Likes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

La Russa Finally Finds a Lineup He Likes

Article excerpt

Eighty-nine was enough for Tony La Russa.

The Cardinals' manager used the same eight-man batting order for two consecutive games for the first time Saturday after making at least one change in each of the first 89 games. The Cardinals scored 22 runs with the same lineup these last two days.

But the streak ends Sunday because La Russa plans to play Ozzie Smith at shortstop and Luis Alicea at second base.

La Russa mostly is concerned about getting Willie McGee and Mark Sweeney playing time in the next few days. Both pinch-hit Saturday.

La Russa admits it's not easy with Ron Gant, Ray Lankford and Brian Jordan "feeling good and playing well."

"McGee and Sweeney have to stay sharp with a game here and there," La Russa said. "But where's the game? Is it here? Is it at home?"

Alicea will play second base because La Russa doesn't want Mike Gallego to tax his legs after coming off a hamstring injury. Besides, he doesn't want to lose Alicea, who has struggled with 19 errors.

"Where his confidence was, I wanted him to get away from it a little," said La Russa. "But I've got to keep him alive."

La Russa, a longtime booster of Gallego, said, "When he's right, he plays second base a lot like the fans have seen Ozzie play shortstop. He's very acrobatic.

"He's a good player. And when there's a win on the line and a championship on the line, he's even a better player."

Smith was honored before Saturday's game. The Cubs presented him with a "No. 1" plaque, with the "1" coming from the numbers used in the hand-operated center-field scoreboard.

Smith said, "It's been a pleasure to perform in front of some of the greatest baseball fans in the world. And now I've got a real piece of Wrigley."

La Russa gave Smith his second ninth-inning pinch-hitting opportunity in two days. Again, Smith was greeted by a standing ovation and chants of "Ozz-ee. …

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