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NLCS NOTEBOOK

Trip for Biggio years in making

ST. LOUIS -- No one waited longer than Craig Biggio.

Three Division Series games in 1997 (a series loss to Atlanta). Four Division Series games in 1998 (a loss to San Diego). Four Division Series games in 1999 (another loss to Atlanta). Three Division Series games in 2001 (yet another loss to Atlanta). Five Division Series games in 2004 (finally, a win over Atlanta). Seven League Championship Series games in 2004 (a loss to St. Louis). Four Division Series games in 2005 (a win over Atlanta). And, entering last night, five League Championship Series games this season.

That was a major league-record 35 postseason games -- one more than Edgar Martinez -- without an appearance in a World Series. And last night, it came. A soaked Biggio walked the clubhouse after the game, the league championship trophy in hand.

''See what it feels like," Biggio told closer Brad Lidge. ''You may never touch it again. But you can feel it right now."

Biggio, a member of the Astros since 1988, singled sharply to left in the third inning off Mark Mulder, knocking in Adam Everett for a 2-0 lead. He singled and scored in the seventh, marking his 28th hit in 22 postseason games over the last two years, after collecting just seven hits in 14 playoff games from 1997-2001.

He's hit .295 with 7 doubles, 2 homers, 9 RBIs, and 16 runs scored in the last two postseasons. Biggio, 39, signed a one-year extension on the last day of the regular season.

Oswalt named MVP

Roy Oswalt was named series MVP for going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his two starts. Over 14 innings, the Astros' righthander allowed just eight hits while striking out 12 and walking only four. He beat Mulder in both starts . . . The three earned runs Mulder allowed were his most in seven postseason starts . . . Astros catcher Brad Ausmus had three hits last night after having only three three-hit games all season . . . Albert Pujols entered last night with at least one hit in all but one of his 17 NLCS games, but went 0 for 4 in Game 6. In those 17 games he had hit .400 (26 for 65) with 7 home runs and 17 RBIs, those totals bolstered by his historic ninth-inning blast off Lidge in Game 5. Pujols drew a standing ovation and a flicker of flashbulbs for his first at-bat last night. The photo-op continued throughout that at-bat -- he struck out -- and his second at-bat.

Bodies in motion

Houston's Willy Taveras, who started 144 games in center field this season, and the first six in the postseason, sat down for Games 3-5 of the NLCS, when manager Phil Garner opted to start white-hot Chris Burke. Taveras returned to the lineup last night and went 2 for 4, and Burke moved to left field and contributed a single and a run scored. Lance Berkman moved to first base. That bumped Mike Lamb out of the lineup . . . During pregame introductions, the Busch Stadium faithful vociferously jeered Phil Cuzzi -- the home plate umpire who ejected Tony La Russa and Jim Edmonds during an at-bat late in Game 4 . . . Jason Isringhausen's two scoreless innings in Game 5 marked the first time he'd retired all six batters he faced since April 22, 2004, also at Houston.

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