ATLANTA — After a long night of dramatic baseball, the Phillies know their first postseason opponent. And it's the team that gave them the most trouble during the regular season.
The St. Louis Cardinals will head to Citizens Bank Park to face the Phillies in the division series that begins Saturday. St. Louis won six of nine games against the Phillies during the regular season and was the team that started an eight-game Phillies tailspin near the end.
"We played them nine times and they're a challenge for us," Charlie Manuel said. "They have good hitters and, at times, they can be a little weak on defense. Their bullpen has talent, big arms, but they were kind of inconsistent. It was kind of a weakness so far, but they do have a lot of talent, so you never know when their bullpen is going to be good."
But the Phillies are riding a four-game winning streak, just played in a postseason atmosphere while eliminating the Braves, and are undefeated with their regular lineup -- which faced St. Louis twice (both wins) in 2011. They also have their pitching staff lined up better than the Cardinals, who had to use Chris Carpenter to win Game 162 just to qualify for the postseason.
"They're an extremely hot team," Hunter Pence said. "They have a great baseball mind in La Russa. He's been managing longer than I've been alive. It's going to be a good series. It's going to be good baseball. That's what the playoffs are about."
"They're playing good right now," Brad Lidge said. "That's always a factor. They have a real good offense."
Ultimately, any of the three teams the Phillies would have to face in the first round are challenging. Both Milwaukee and Arizona played well in the final weeks.
The pitching matchups figure to look like this:
Saturday, Game 1: RHP Roy Halladay vs. LHP Jaime Garcia
Sunday, Game 2: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Kyle Lohse
Tuesday, Game 3: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Chris Carpenter
*Wednesday, Game 4: RHP Roy Oswalt vs. RHP Edwin Jackson/RHP Jake Westbrook
*Friday, Game 5: RHP Roy Halladay vs. LHP Jaime Garcia
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