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Duncan put in prominent lineup spot

Duncan put in prominent lineup spot

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ST. LOUIS -- Some lineup decisions require thinking, whether the manager has to take a careful look at the numbers or whether he feels a certain strategy can work.

That's why Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is going with rookie Chris Duncan in right field in the No. 2 spot for Friday's Game 5. Duncan joins Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen in a quartet of game-changing hitters against Tigers starter Justin Verlander, who has been iffy this postseason (1-1, 7.47 ERA in three starts). The move makes sense as the Cards try to lock up their 10th World Series title.

"He's more comfortable there," La Russa said of Duncan, who has a .150 postseason batting average with a home run and two RBIs in part-time duty. "Hitting in front of Albert, he's got potential to do some damage."

Other decisions, however, aren't so scientific.

The Cards needed a left fielder to bat eighth, and the decision came between Preston Wilson and So Taguchi.

"The tough call was in left field," La Russa said. "Both Preston and So are playing inspired baseball. I flipped a coin and it came up So."

The Tigers went with the same lineup that produced 10 hits in the Game 4 loss. They had 17 hits combined in the previous three games.

Placido Polanco, the usual No. 3 hitter, went 0-for-4 after dropping to the seventh spot Thursday night.

But the Tigers did get something in Game 4 from catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who had been hitless until going 3-for-4 Thursday night. Rodriguez bats sixth in Game 5.

"I was a little bit more selective last night at the plate," Rodriguez said. "I take two or three, four pitches in an at-bat and just make a small adjustment in my batting style, that's all.

"Just wait for a good pitch to hit. I did that very well last night and I look forward to do the same thing tonight."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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