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Padres ready to go all out

Padres ready to go all out

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SAN DIEGO -- Crank up the volume.

It was much too quiet in St. Louis for the Padres' tastes. Muted by early Cardinals leads of 4-0 in each of the first two games of the National League Division Series, Bruce Bochy's troupe tried to pick up the tempo with base hits, but not enough runs came from them to keep the runnin' Redbirds from chirping to within one victory of the NLCS.

One defeat away from 2006, with Game 3 arriving on Saturday night at PETCO Park at 8 p.m. PT, the Padres were clamoring on Friday for noise.

They want to hear it from their fans, who have been known to go a little wild in these all-too-rare postseason games.

"Oh, it'll be loud, all right," said Dave Roberts, who grew up in the area and has heard October crowds erupt at Qualcomm Stadium in 1984, 1996 and 1998. "Hopefully, we can feed off all that energy and make some good things happen."

Leading off against Matt Morris, Roberts will have a chance to trigger that energy and noise. If the Padres generate some serious volume themselves -- on the field, the only place where it truly matters -- they might take some of that swagger out of the defending league champions.

"There's only one way to play a game like this -- with all your heart and soul," veteran Eric Young said. "Lay it on the line. Don't hold anything back."

What happened in St. Louis, the Padres keep reminding each other, is history. There's no rewrite for those first two chapters.

Clearly, numbers can deceive, if not lie. Across the board, in batting and on-base average as well as slugging, the Padres outproduced the Cards in Games 1 and 2, yet didn't get closer than three runs.

They departed the heartland with a .329 average, slugging .414 with a .400 on-base average, but with only seven runs to show for 23 hits.

Tony La Russa's band, meanwhile, batted a pedestrian .254, slugging .397 with a .347 on-base mark, but found the ways and means to produce twice as many runs as the Friars.

"It is odd," Joe Randa said. "But seven double plays equals it out."

The Padres bemoaned their misfortune in hitting balls on the nose directly at Cardinals with runners on base in both games, early, middle and late. David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek gave a clinic on how to turn two.

"You can't guide balls once you hit them," Randa said. "Maybe we're due to catch a break or two and get a few to fall in."

But if runners -- and fielders -- are in motion, maybe a few of those balls find holes, and maybe ... well, who knows, right, Joe?

"We're not a home-run team -- we're a contact team, and that's what's got us in trouble," said Randa, who is 3-for-7. "We need to send a guy, be more aggressive on the bases, go from first to third on singles.

"We've got to score from second on base hits. We can't afford to wait for two base hits to score a guy from second. We need to get bigger leads at second, be more aggressive."

Randa has watched the Cardinals play hit-and-run with Albert Pujols, their slugger.

"They've exploited that," he said. "Maybe we can."

As leadoff catalyst, Roberts has every intention of putting the wheels in motion.

"I'd like to see us get aggressive and stay aggressive on the bases," he said. "But it's about game situations -- the score, outs, what the game dictates."

Third-base coach Rob Picciolo knows he'd be ridiculed if he started madly waving baserunners with serious guns in the Cardinals' outfield belonging to Jim Edmonds in center and Larry Walker in right. These are deterrents that must be respected.

There's also the matter of getting behind early, as the Padres did both times in St. Louis, and not giving up precious outs with recklessness. In Game 1, Picciolo held runners at third who could have scored in order to keep the ninth inning alive for hot-hitting Ramon Hernandez.

The potential tying run was at first when Hernandez struck out against Jason Isringhausen to seal the Cards' 8-5 victory.

"When you're behind like we were, by four early in both games, you have to be more cautious, smarter," Picciolo said. "Every time someone talks about us being more aggressive on the bases, I point out that you need to be intelligent about it. Running into outs does you no good.

"The scoreboard dictates everything you do on the bases."

In both losses in St. Louis, the offense didn't generate runs until the last third of the games. That has to change if the Padres plan to push this to a Game 4 and give Adam Eaton his first postseason start on Sunday afternoon.

"We need to keep it close early," Ryan Klesko said. "We can't let this game get away from us. If it's close, we can be more aggressive on the bases. We're hitting the ball well. We need to keep that up."

In a true must-win predicament, the burden falls not only on the offense to pick up the tempo earlier, but also on a defense that has been spotty to make all the plays, as the Cardinals have, behind their pitcher. Woody Williams, Mark Loretta was saying, is the right Padre for the job in Game 3.

"I think his experience is going to be invaluable," the second baseman said. "He doesn't have any fear, and he dictates the pace of the game. As a competitor, you love that. You know he's going to give it everything he's got.

"It's good having his experience out there. I think Woody can handle it better than any pitcher we have."

Noise doesn't bother Williams. He likes it loud.

"This is what they signed me for, games like this," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Lyle Spencer 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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