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OF reclaims his place in center for NLCS after an ankle injury.

Times wires

ST. LOUIS - Dodgers centerfielder Andre Ethier, who played sparingly in the NL Division Series because of an ankle injury, was in the lineup for Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.

Manager Don Mattingly said Ethier assured him and the rest of the team he'd be able to make all the plays. He was batting seventh against Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly on Friday night. He singled in his first at-bat in the second inning but was later forced out at second base.

"Well, it gets us back to the kind of lineup that we played most of the middle of our year, with Andre out in center, and it feels good to get him back in there," Mattingly said. "We're comfortable he can play center (Friday) the way he's capable of, and we'll see where we go from there."

Ethier recovered from a hard workout Thursday and went through another workout Friday morning before a decision was made.

"My teammates were coming up to me and saying, 'We're in a position where we want you in there playing,' so it was one where I'd like to have a little bit more time to play at this point under my belt, but you just go out there, do the best you can and don't let these guys down," Ethier told

The Dodgers will go with starting pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco in Games 3 and 4, respectively. Paco Rodriguez was not on the roster, leaving the Dodgers with one lefty in the bullpen.

Right-handers Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez also were added and Chris Capuano was not on the roster.

"Carlos has got really good numbers. We felt like his power was good for us, lefties and righties," Mattingly said. "I really don't want to bad-mouth my players that we didn't keep."

The Cardinals made no roster moves. Manager Mike Matheny hasn't announced his choice for Game 4 starter and said the two candidates - rookie Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn - would be available in relief for Game 1.

Matheny reacted strongly when asked whether he talked to players about the increased intensity. "If I did that, I should be slapped," Matheny said. "Just think, if you were in their shoes and all of a sudden somebody walked in and told them they have to figure out a way to play them better than what they've done all season long."

UPTICK in Ratings: TBS averaged a 2.5 rating and 3.89 million viewers for 18 telecasts during the wild-card round and division series. The rating was up 4 percent from a 2.4 last year and the households up 6 percent from 3,633,000 last year. St. Louis' Game 5 win over Pittsburgh drew 6.1 million viewers and Detroit's fifth-game victory over Oakland drew 5.5 million. In the wild-card round, 4.7 million saw Tampa Bay beat Cleveland and 4.6 million watched Pittsburgh defeat Cincinnati.

THE BIG FOUR: After three teams among baseball's lowest spenders reached the playoffs, it's the big-money clubs on to the championship series in each league - Boston versus Detroit and the Dodgers against St. Louis.

A's GM Billy Beane was thrilled to see three teams near the bottom in payroll - Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay - in the playoffs. "It made for a different look in the postseason. My suspicion is that particularly for a club like Pittsburgh and Tampa, they're really good at what they do and will be knocking on the door again next year," Beane said. "And then you've got four traditional powers in the final four, which is great, too."


NLCS Game 2: Dodgers at Cardinals, 4:07, TBS

ALCS Game 1: Tigers at Red Sox, 8:07, Ch. 13, 620-AM

Late game

Friday's Dodgers-Cardinals NLCS opener was in extra innings at press time. For the result, go

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