- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A drained Tony La Russa sat behind the podium, jersey gone and a blue towel draped around his neck,

“When you dream,” the St. Louis Cardinals manager said, “you dream about seventh game, all the heroics.”

After one of the greatest games in baseball history, a 10-9, 11-inning victory over Texas in Game 6 in which the Cardinals were twice within one strike of elimination, it was too soon for La Russa to announce his Game 7 starter. His choice was whether to send ace Chris Carpenter to the mound on short rest Friday night or start Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson.

“This is a very important game and if you don’t want it, then there’s no need to be here,” Carpenter said.

Down to their final strike in the ninth and 10th, the Cardinals won Game 6 on David Freese’s 11th-inning homer off Mark Lowe. Afterward, La Russa still would not commit to a Game 7 starter.

“Just barely started to think about tomorrow, but actually it’ll be fun to think about it now because there is a Game 7,” he said. “Might just roll Jake (Westbrook) back out there. Who knows?”

Texas manager Ron Washington made his decision days ago, announcing he would stay in rotation and start Matt Harrison, the Game 3 loser. Washington could have gone with Game 4 winner Derek Holland on full rest or ace C.J. Wilson on short rest.

Harrison has been a big part of this team all year,” Washington said. “I am not changing the things that I’ve been doing all year.”

The eight-year absence of baseball’s ultimate game is the longest since the World Series began in 1903. The Cardinals hold the record for most World Series Game 7s, going 7-3.

When a seventh game was last played in 2002, John Lackey pitched five innings of one-hit ball to lead the Anaheim Angels over the San Francisco Giants 4-1, completing a comeback from a 3-2 Series deficit. Lackey joined Babe Adams of the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates as the only rookie starters to win a seventh game, and the Angels became the eighth straight home team to triumph in Game 7 since the victory by Pittsburgh’s “We Are Family” team at Baltimore in 1979.

In 2001, Randy Johnson came out of the bullpen on no days’ rest and the Diamondbacks rallied for two runs in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera, beating the Yankees 3-2 on Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat single.

“When you’re a little kid, you think about the seventh game of the World Series,” Gonzalez said. “It didn’t matter how the hit came.”

While the Cardinals are seeking their 11th title, the Rangers are going for the first in the 51-year history of the franchise, which began as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. The team moved to Texas for the 1972 season.

“We’ve been backed into a corner for the last two months,” the Cardinals‘ Skip Schumaker said, “so we know what it feels like.”

Carpenter won the opener, then allowed two runs in seven innings in Game 5 on Monday night, giving up solo homers to Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre. He didn’t get a decision in the Cardinals 4-2 loss but is 3-0 with a 3.30 ERA in five postseason appearances.

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