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With heated history, Cardinals, Brewers renew rivalry in NLCS

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 9, 2011

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MILWAUKEE - There was still an afterglow surrounding the Cardinals following the stunning, Bob Gibsonesque performance by New Hampshire native Chris Carpenter, who shut down the big, bad Philadelphia Phillies , 1-0, to win the best-of-five Division Series Friday night.

Upon yesterday’s arrival at Miller Park, Carpenter was asked about his memorable outing in which he defeated former Toronto Blue Jays teammate Roy Halladay. He said it “feels like a hangover.’’

He hopes there’s no remedy.

A lot more will be expected of Carpenter once this National League Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers commences this afternoon. But first there was more admiration and appreciation for what Carpenter had done.

Simply put, the Cardinals - the playoffs’ lovable underdogs - will go as far as Carpenter can take them. In every series there needs to be an ace performance. Carpenter had his Friday with a three-hit shutout and St. Louis will need an encore.

“It’s about what’s next, not what just happened,’’ Carpenter said. “You can enjoy it for a while, but this is starting up quickly here and we have to have the same will to win that we did in the series against the Phillies. If we have that, then we could do some special things here.’’

The Cardinals, who defeated the Brewers in the 1982 World Series, certainly consider themselves the underdogs.

They played abysmally for stretches, then turned on the jets with an 18-8 September to capture the wild-card berth ahead of the Atlanta Braves .

If you’re looking for an advantage in this series, the teams split 18 games in the regular season.

The Brewers were able to stay home after a dramatic 10th-inning RBI single by outfielder Nyjer Morgan, which gave Milwaukee a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the Division Series Friday.

The Cardinals and Brewers have forged a pretty heated rivalry.

In August, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa accused the Brewers of altering the lighting at Miller Park when Milwaukee was batting. And the next night there were brushbacks to Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun.

On Sept. 7, Morgan was warned by the umpire for yapping at Carpenter in the ninth inning following a 10-pitch at-bat that culminated in a strikeout. The benches emptied, but there was no altercation. Carpenter tossed a four-hit shutout.

Morgan, however, tweeted after the game, “I hope those crying birds (enjoy) watching tha Crew in tha Playoffs!!’’

Today, the Brewers will start 16-game winner Zack Greinke, the former American League Cy Young Award winner, who has never pitched on a stage this big. Greinke will be opposed by Cardinals lefty Jamie Garcia, who went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season.

Edwin Jackson pitches Game 2 for St. Louis tomorrow, opposite righty Shaun Marcum. Carpenter will resurface in Game 3 at Busch Stadium, against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo.

Both sides have explosive bats. Braun, an MVP candidate, went 9 for 18 with four RBIs in the Division Series. Pujols is 7 for 20 this postseason.

The managers present quite a contrast. La Russa is appearing in his 14th postseason and ninth with St. Louis. Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke is a first-year skipper, spending the previous 11 seasons on the Angels coaching staff.

There is some Red Sox flavor in this series. Former Sox catcher George Kottaras and first baseman/outfielder Mark Kotsay are Brewers reserves, while Takashi Saito works out of the Brewers bullpen.

Milwaukee coaches Jerry Narron (bench) and Dale Sveum (hitting) are former Sox coaches. Sveum is a candidate for the Sox’ managerial opening. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spent a year working in Boston’s front office under Mike Port. Cardinals bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist pitched for the Sox in 1995.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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