Notes: Good experience for 'pen

Cards notes: Good experience for 'pen

ST. LOUIS -- An 8-0 laugher turned into a bit of a nail-biter for the Cardinals in Game 1 of their National League Division Series on Tuesday, but the Cards are looking at the bright side of San Diego's late-inning comeback.

The next time St. Louis has a lead to hold, two things will be different: The Cards' top relievers will be pitching if it's a tighter game, and the less experienced Redbird hurlers will have some playoff experience under their belts. Brad Thompson and Randy Flores were charged with a run each on Tuesday, but both have now pitched in the playoffs.

"The guys that have never pitched in the postseason, the sooner you get them out there, the better off they are," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "And don't expect perfection.

"Now, if that had been a two-run game, those guys wouldn't have pitched. What we did is, we gave up a few runs, but we really accomplished something in getting them into the game."

Flores and Thompson were important and effective cogs in the Cards bullpen this year, pitching in plenty of tight spots. But there is something undeniably different about pitching in the postseason.

"It was definitely a good thing," said Thompson. "I just got my feet wet out there a little bit. As much as you try to do the same stuff, there's more energy out there. It was good to get in there with a big lead like that."

For Flores, the result wasn't a great thrill, but there was solace in the fact that Eric Young's pinch-homer off him didn't affect the outcome of the game.

"You always wonder if the feeling or butterflies will be different from any other time you've had it," he said. "You go out there and you realize that, pretty much, butterflies are butterflies.

"But it's good to feel that it's the same type, no matter if it's Opening Day, or the day after a bad outing, or a close game, or a not close game, or a playoff game. That being said, it's a relief to know that the run I gave up came in a game with a big lead, so that hopefully the adjustment is made for a different game in a different situation."

Carp is fine: Chris Carpenter felt no ill effects on Wednesday from the cramping in his hands that forced him out of Game 1 of the series on Tuesday. Carpenter and the team's medical staff believe the cramps were a result of dehydration on an unseasonably hot October day.

"I was good by the time I left here yesterday," he said. "It's something I've never experienced before. I have no explanation. I was drinking a lot. I know I sweat a lot, but why it happened yesterday, I don't know. I'll be all right. I'm not concerned about it. I'll throw my [bullpen session] like usual. As far as I'm concerned, I'm 100 percent."

It remains to be determined when Carpenter's next start will come. He could pitch Game 4 or 5 of the Division Series, or if the Cardinals close the series out quickly, he might next take the mound for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

La Russa remains noncommittal as to who will pitch any of the games beyond Friday's Game 3 in San Diego.

"If I talked about Game 4 right now and I walked in that clubhouse, I'd be assaulted by the guys," manager Tony La Russa said. "It would be hypocritical, because that's not how we're approaching this thing. We're approaching Game 2, and you know we're going to play Game 3. It's not time to talk about [Game 4]."

Breaking it down: One of the key plays from St. Louis' win on Tuesday was Abraham Nunez's spearing of a Mark Loretta chopper in the third inning. With men on first and second, one out, and Brian Giles looming on deck, Loretta worked a nine-pitch at-bat before smoking a ball that Nunez smothered. Nunez tagged third base and fired to first for a critical double play.

Nunez explained Wednesday that he was in perfect position to make the play partly because San Diego was running. The Padres sent Dave Roberts from second base, so Nunez took a small step toward the base in case of a strikeout -- so as to be ready for a throw from catcher Yadier Molina.

"The thing is, it was a 3-2 count," said Nunez, who has played more third base this year than in the rest of his career combined. "That makes it tougher. I took a step, because I saw the guy taking off. So I took a step toward the bag. I held my ground, I didn't break, but I took a step. We were going to throw to third in case he swung and missed.

"The ball right at you, you just react to it. The toughest thing is going to your side, when you have to go to your right. You have to set and react to it. Most of the time, if you've got a late reaction, the ball is already by you."

This day in Cardinals postseason history: Oct. 5, 1926, brought the first World Series played in St. Louis. Jesse Haines went the distance for the Cardinals in a 4-0 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the Fall Classic. Haines was the star of the show on both ends, also smacking a two-run homer off Yankees southpaw Dutch Ruether. The win put the Cardinals ahead, two games to one, in a series they would eventually win in seven games.

Baby 'Birds: Travis Hanson went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Gabe Johnson walked in both of his plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League opener for the Surprise Scorpions. Surprise beat Peoria, 14-2.

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