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Cardinals short hops

Cardinals short hops

Unable to generate much offense, the Cardinals now find themselves at the mercy of the Houston Astros after losing Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, 4-3.

Matt Morris gave up four runs (three earned) and the Cardinals' Nos. 1 and 2 hitters (David Eckstein and So Taguchi) went 0-for-8 with a sacrifice RBI.

Morris dropped to 0-3 in seven career NLCS starts.

Behind the numbers
The Cardinals have trailed three other times in NLCS history and come back to win. In 1985 they were down, 2-0, to Los Angeles, in 1987 they were down, 3-2, to San Francisco and in 2004 they were down, 3-2, to Houston.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 3 of the NLCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 2.66 The Cards' ERA continues to climb ever so slightly
BA .228 (2-for-7 Game 3, 21-for-92 series) The Cardinals got more production out of their offense than they did in Game 2, but will still need to score more runs if they expect to win.
Runs 3 The Cardinals need to score four runs or more to give their starting pitchers a legitimate chance.
Errors 1 Hector Luna's throwing error was the Cardinals' second in the series. St. Louis committed just one error in seven games during last year's NLCS.

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Albert Pujols 2-for-4, run scored (.364 series) Pujols continues to be dangerous, but the Astros are keeping runners off the base paths when he comes up.

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
David Eckstein 0-4, 1 RBI in Game 3 Eckstein needs to find more ways to get on base. His batting average has slipped to .182 in the NLCS.

Frozen moment
With the score tied at 2, runners on first and third with two outs, Abraham Nunez hit a trickler up the first-base line. Nunez expected the ball to go foul and did not run hard to first base. He was thrown out by catcher Brad Ausmus, who did not wait for an umpire's call to throw to first.

Second guess
After Nunez came out with an injury, manager Tony La Russa replaced him with Hector Luna instead of John Mabry. Luna made an error that cost the Cardinals a run in the inning. La Russa said he wanted Luna in the game because his spot in the batting order was coming up the next inning, and he likes the way he puts the ball in play and "runs like hell."

Looking good
The Cardinals bullpen, which has struggled in the playoffs, held Houston scoreless for 2 2/3 innings on Saturday.

Last word
"Luna, the tough part about that, from my angle -- and I just talked to him briefly -- he gets the ball, there's the runner, there's the catcher. I mean, he had nowhere to throw it and that's your first play."
-- LaRussa

Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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