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Notes: Suppan skipped for Marquis

Notes: Suppan skipped for Marquis

ST. LOUIS -- Reporters entered the Cardinals clubhouse on Friday afternoon with one question -- the same question Jeff Suppan had when he came to the park: Who's starting for St. Louis on Saturday?

Not long after Suppan found out, so did the press corps covering the Redbirds. It will be Jason Marquis pitching the penultimate regular-season game at Busch Stadium, though Suppan may take the mound in relief at some point over the weekend.

"They weren't sure," Suppan said. "It said 'Suppan or Marquis' on the board. So I just asked them today, and that's what they told me."

Suppan and Marquis are the candidates to take the final spot in the Cards' postseason rotation, and it's hard not to read something into the decision to start Marquis -- particularly given that it was Suppan's turn in the rotation. Manager Tony La Russa cautioned against making too much of the choice of Marquis, though.

"We want to beat Cincinnati, and he's pitched better against Cincinnati," La Russa said. "We want to end up the season with our three best chances to do exactly what we've done all year long, which is win the series. He's pitched better against them, so he deserves the ball."

The Cardinals used Marquis in relief on Tuesday, allowing him to get some work in between starts. There will be no rush to get Suppan in a game over the weekend, however.

"If something happens to one of the three starters, he's available," La Russa said. "But if not, we want to get our bullpen ready, too. Supp's put in his season. He's had a [heck] of a year. He doesn't need tomorrow to be ready for the playoffs."

Suppan pitched the closing games of both the National League Division Series and Championship Series for the Cardinals last season, while Marquis struggled in two starts before turning in a solid game in Game 4 of the World Series. However, Marquis pitched well against San Diego in two games this year, and the Padres are the Cardinals' most likely Division Series opponent.

King to leave: Ray King will miss Saturday's game to be with his father, who is seriously ill with cancer. He is expected to return in time for Sunday's regular-season finale.

Unhappy skipper: La Russa took exception to a question about Mark McGwire before Friday's game. McGwire was slated to take down the number on the countdown clock signifying only two regular-season games remaining at Busch Stadium.

"I'll see you all later," he said when a television reporter asked what kind of reception he thought McGwire would receive. "That question shouldn't even be asked. Haven't we had a positive, great season, a great 40-year history?"

La Russa punctuated his displeasure by slamming his fungo bat against a wall, breaking it.

Bits and pieces: The Latino Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association presented the Cardinals with an award Friday recognizing Albert Pujols as the National League's Latino MVP for 2004. ... Red Schoendienst and Mike Shannon will share the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday's game, the last regular-season game at Busch Stadium. ... The Cardinals honored the 1985 National League champions before Friday's game. Members of the team rode around the warning track in convertibles and lined up along the first-base line.

Coming up: Marquis will try to even his season record at 14-14 when he takes the mound against Cincinnati's Ramon Ortiz on Saturday. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. CT. Before the game, the Cardinals will introduce and honor the all-Busch Stadium team.

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

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