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Rainout nothing new to Weaver

Rainout nothing new to Cards' Weaver

ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Weaver is used to rain delays. And if the past is any indication, that can help the Cardinals.

This season, Weaver has been halted three times because of rain. In his first two outings, including Game 1 of the NLCS, Weaver responded with brilliant performances. On Tuesday, he will be asked to accomplish a similar feat in the Redbirds' most important game of the season.

With the series tied, 2-2, Weaver will take the ball against Mets ace Tom Glavine in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.

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Weaver and Glavine were supposed to pitch Monday night, but heavy rain in the St. Louis area postponed the contest.

The start also moves Weaver and Glavine back to four days' rest. The Game 1 starters would've thrown on short rest if the game were played Monday.

"You don't want to have the pitcher pitch on short rest if you don't have to," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "And I think more importantly, because both guys have been gearing themselves to go, they are ready."

La Russa could have pushed Chris Carpenter and started him in Game 5 on three days' rest, but the option was never considered.

"It has not been brought up," Carpenter said on Monday afternoon. "Nobody said anything to me."

Weaver, though, has established himself as the best Cardinals starter over the past two months. He went 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in his final 10 regular starts and has pitched brilliantly in two postseason outings. In his two starts after rain delays -- one in mid-September and Game 1 -- Weaver has registered a 3.08 ERA.

The NLCS Game 1 start, postponed by a day, was one of the best outings of Weaver's career.

After tossing five shutout innings of Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Padres, the lanky right-hander tossed 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball against Glavine in the Game 1 matchup.

Weaver took the loss against the Mets in that one, but held the dangerous New York lineup at bay. He tossed one-hit ball for five innings, but permitted a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran in the sixth.

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Unlike his starts after rain delays this season, Game 5 will come at home in front of Cardinal Nation and 47,000-plus screaming fans. For many, pitching at Busch Stadium has been a huge help to their ERAs and overall effectiveness.

It's been the opposite for Weaver. Including the postseason, the right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in road starts for the Cards, while recording a 1-3 mark and 6.52 ERA at Busch. Still, La Russa said he believes Weaver can be a very good pitcher in St. Louis.

"His first couple of appearances, he was trying to get in a good groove," La Russa said. "I think with the way he's throwing, he has got a chance."

Several of Weaver's subpar outings at home were because of lost confidence after a rocky stint with the Angels. They tossed him and his 3-10 record and 6.29 ERA to the scrap heap in early July.

The Cardinals picked him up, but Weaver still felt residual effects from his time in Los Angeles. In his first two starts at Busch, the California native wilted under the 100-plus-degree summer heat, allowing 13 runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Since then, Weaver's confidence has been restored through meetings with La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

"We sat down and they just made me feel comfortable as far as not wanting me to do too much to change anything," Weaver said. "They were happy with the way I go out there and compete, and they like the way that I had thrown against them when I played against the Cardinals. When you hear those things, it makes it easier to transition to a new team and just to find yourself and believe in yourself."

After those early problems, Weaver has thrown much better, working at least five innings in all five of his remaining home starts and permitting three runs or fewer in three of the outings.

"[I've felt] comfortable the last couple of starts here," Weaver said. "I had not found my niche and was still battling mechanics or mind thought or whatever else. I think it was more individual, what I was going through."

In the few weeks of the regular season, Weaver won some huge games for the Cardinals, including tossing six innings of two-run ball against the Brewers in a 12-2 win on Sept. 19. That outing was pushed back two days from his scheduled start because of rain.

"The key to the game was Jeff Weaver," La Russa said after the win.

The Cardinals will hope for a similar performance on Tuesday night.

Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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