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Matheny rides late-season lineup for Game 1

Matheny rides late-season lineup for Game 1

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Matheny rides late-season lineup for Game 1

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series looked much like the one manager Mike Matheny wrote out with regularity over the final three weeks of the season. It included Matt Adams as the cleanup hitter and Daniel Descalso as the starting shortstop, batting eighth.

Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday were ahead of Adams in the batting order. Yadier Molina hit fifth, followed by Jon Jay and David Freese. The Cards are likely to utilize this same lineup -- one that keeps shortstop Pete Kozma on the bench -- in all of their games against right-handed starters.

The Pirates are scheduled to start just one lefty (Francisco Liriano ) in the series, and that will be in Game 3 on Sunday in Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. CT on TBS).

"I don't think it was a shock to anybody that Danny was going to play short today by how he played down the stretch, defensively, and offensively how he's swinging the bat," Matheny said prior to Game 1. "We have some flexibility there, but we also have some ability to make changes late in the game."

Though Kozma drew the majority of the starts through the first four months of the season, Descalso has handled most of the work at shortstop as of late. He started 13 of the team's last 18 games at the position and finished the season on a six-game hitting streak.

The Cardinals have been aggressive in inserting Kozma into games late as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement, which adds to his value off the bench. Kozma hit just .179 after the All-Star break.

Adams, the team's everyday first baseman in Allen Craig's absence, slid into the fourth spot in the lineup for the team's final nine regular-season games. He hit .326 with eight homers, 15 RBIs and 19 runs scored in the 24 games following Craig's injury.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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