Notes: Full lineup finally returns

Notes: Full lineup finally returns

ST. LOUIS -- Like Jake and Elwood Blues, the Cardinals are getting the band back together.

For Tuesday night's game against the Astros, St. Louis fielded its most complete lineup in 2 1/2 months. For the first time since July 10, seven of the eight starting position players from Opening Day started the game. Only Abraham Nunez didn't start in Houston back in April, and he has become the primary third baseman with Scott Rolen out for the year.

The biggest change on Tuesday was the return of Larry Walker, who had missed the weekend's series in Milwaukee after having a cortisone shot to ease the pain of a herniated disk in his neck. Walker had the shot on Thursday and sat out until Tuesday's home contest.

"We knew this was going to happen," Walker said. "We knew probably a week before the playoffs we'd get it done. We did it. Everything has been right on time. I just hope we get the same results as the other shots. I think I played fairly well after the shots, so hopefully that will continue."

Tuesday's lineup -- David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols, Walker, Reggie Sanders, Mark Grudzielanek, Nunez and Yadier Molina -- is likely to be the offensive arrangement for Game 1 of the Division Series next week. The Cards' various achy players will play just about every game the rest of the way, with an off-day coming on Thursday and travel days sprinkled throughout the postseason. Even Walker expects to start all five games, but perhaps to be removed early from some of those contests.

"The whole point about resting guys, it's all academic at this point, because we've got days off," said manager Tony La Russa. "We don't have to rest anybody."

Saturday starter? The Cardinals do not have an officially announced starting pitcher for Saturday's game against the Reds. Tentatively, it's Jeff Suppan, but Jason Marquis has not been ruled out.

In the meantime, Marquis pitched two innings of relief on Tuesday. He won't pitch again in relief before Saturday, when either he or Suppan will get the start. If it's Suppan, Marquis might then be available in relief again.

"It will not continue through the week," La Russa said of using Marquis out of the bullpen.

Bits and pieces: Right-hander Brad Thompson was named the Cardinals' Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. ... The Cardinals honored Ron "Pop" Warner, manager of the Palm Beach Cardinals, before Tuesday's game. Warner skippered Palm Beach to the Florida State League title. ... Cardinals alumni attending this weekend's games will be outfitted in retro Mitchell and Ness jerseys representing the era in which they played. Each player will have his own name and number on the jersey. ... The Cardinals wives will announce the winner of a season-long raffle on Wednesday. The prize is a unique quilt autographed by Cardinals Hall of Famers and this year's team.

Today in Busch Stadium history: On Sept. 27, 1968, Bob Gibson closed out one of the greatest individual seasons in baseball history. Gibson outdueled the Astros' Larry Dierker, going the distance in a 1-0 win. He struck out 11, didn't walk a batter and held Houston to six hits. Gibson finished the year with a 22-9 record, a league-leading 268 strikeouts and an unheard-of 1.12 ERA. He completed 28 of his 34 starts, including 23 of his last 25, and pitched more than nine innings on five different occasions. Thanks to Project Retrosheet (www.retrosheet.org) for the information.

Coming up: The Cardinals and Astros play for the last time in the regular season with a 7:10 p.m. CT start time at Busch Stadium. Chris Carpenter will make one last try at win No. 22, while Brandon Backe will pitch for Houston.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.