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Cardinals rule in recent postseason elimination games


Heading into Game 5 of their N.L. division series against Pittsburgh tonight, the Cardinals can take comfort in this: They’re 7-1 the last three years when facing postseason elimination.

Manager Mike Matheny said poise comes from a mind-set of sticking to routine that is established during spring training.

“We saw it in Pittsburgh, and I anticipate seeing it tomorrow,” Matheny said Tuesday after most players attended an optional workout. “They show up like it’s another – it’s another great day.”

Starter Adam Wainwright was loose and playful on the podium, joking that he got knocked out early on purpose in last year’s division series finale at Washington to “get the mojo flowing.” He tore a page from the Tony La Russa quote book, declining to discuss possible wrinkles for Game 5, turning to Matheny and asking, “Is that a scouting report? That’s a scouting report.”

Though this is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff appearance since 1992, they’ve looked seasoned, too.

“This is obviously an exciting time, a high-pressure situation, and you know, this is what you prepare for all year,” rookie starter Gerrit Cole said. “Yeah, it’s extremely exciting, and I can’t wait.”

The Pirates will be facing an opponent they know all too well. It’ll be the 24th meeting of the season, with strong stretches on both sides and the Pirates holding a 12-11 edge.

Clearing the bases

Matt Kemp will undergo cleanup surgery on his left shoulder, a procedure that was planned before the Dodgers slugger was shut down for the postseason because of a sprained left ankle. Kemp is expected to be ready for spring training. … Former Phillies manager and shortstop Larry Bowa has returned to the team to serve as bench coach under manager Ryne Sandberg. Besides Bowa, former Spokane Indians infielder Pete Mackanin also is coming back to the Phillies to be the third-base coach. Steve Henderson is staying as hitting coach. …. The Diamondbacks have fired pitching coach Charles Nagy and first-base coach Steve Sax. The team announced manager Kirk Gibson and the rest of his staff will return for next season. … Double-A outfielder Travis Witherspoon has been claimed off waivers from the Angels by the Mariners, who designated catcher Henry Blanco for assignment. Witherspoon, 24, spent last season at Double-A Arkansas, where he hit .214 with 11 homers and 30 stolen bases.