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World Series breakdown, position by position

A position-by-position look at the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox going into the World Series, starting Saturday night at Fenway Park. By Ronald Blum, The Associated Press:

FIRST BASE

Cardinals: Albert Pujols. Voted MVP of the NLCS, hitting 14-for-28 with four homers and a team-high nine RBIs, and is hitting .442 in postseason with six homers and 14 RBIs.

Red Sox: Kevin Millar/David Ortiz. Millar, Boston's quote machine, usually provides extra pop (18 homers, 74 RBIs) in already powerful lineup but hit just .250 in ALCS with two RBIs.

Edge: Cardinals

SECOND BASE

Cardinals: Tony Womack. Resurrected career after a spring training trade from the Red Sox that netted Boston only a minor league pitcher, and has sparked the top of the lineup.

Red Sox: Mark Bellhorn. A switch-hitter with some power, struck out a franchise-record 177 times but walked 88 times. Was 1-for-11 with five walks in first-round sweep of Anaheim and 5-for-26 with five RBIs against the Yankees — including the three-run homer that proved decisive in Game 6.

Edge: Cardinals

SHORTSTOP

Cardinals: Edgar Renteria. Had slight drop-off offensively, batting .287 after a .330, 100-RBI year last season and was 2-for-24 (.167) in the NLCS. Good range, strong arm.

Red Sox: Orlando Cabrera. Former Gold Glove winner has helped solidify defense after replacing fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra. He batted .379 in the ALCS with five RBIs.

Edge: Cardinals

THIRD BASE

Cardinals: Scott Rolen. Likely would have been NL MVP at All-Star break, and cleanup hitter was key to team taking control of Central. He was 0-for-12 against Los Angeles in the first round, then batted .310 (9-for-29) with three homers and six RBIs in NLCS. Defensively, has no peer.

Red Sox: Bill Mueller. Last year's AL batting champ was slowed by knee injury this season but went 4-for-12 in division series and had the tying single off Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the ALCS.

Edge: Cardinals

CATCHER

Cardinals: Mike Matheny. Among best defensively at his position and prized for his handling of pitching staff. Tied Pujols for team lead with five RBIs in division series against Dodgers.

Red Sox: Jason Varitek. Leadership means even more than consistent numbers he puts up. Connected for big homer in Game 2 against Angels and had the tying sacrifice fly in Game 5 of ALCS.

Edge: Red Sox

LEFT FIELD

Cardinals: Reggie Sanders. Average defensively, but took move from right to left after August deal for Larry Walker without grumbling. Hit just 4-for-21 (.190) with no RBIs in NLCS.

Red Sox: Manny Ramirez. MVP candidate led league in HRs (43) and slugging percentage (.613). Batted .385 with one HR and seven RBIs in first round against Angels, but no RBI vs. Yankees.

Edge: Red Sox

CENTER FIELD

Cardinals: Jim Edmonds. Hit 42 homers and had two homers and seven RBIs in NLCS. Can be streaky. Acrobatic, one of best at his position.

Red Sox: Johnny Damon. Speedy leadoff hitter was 3-for-29 against the Yankees before his second-inning grand slam broke open Game 7. Red Sox will need him to get on and use his speed.

Edge: Cardinals

RIGHT FIELD

Cardinals: Larry Walker. Three-time NL batting champion, acquired from Colorado on Aug. 6, is thriving in second slot ahead of Pujols. Hit .241 (7-for-29) with two homers and five RBIs in NLCS.

Red Sox: Trot Nixon. Injuries limited him to 48 games this year, but now he's healthy and plenty dangerous. Averaged 26 HRs and 90 RBIs from 2001-03. Made excellent defensive plays in ALCS.

Edge: Cardinals

DESIGNATED HITTER

Cardinals: John Mabry, who had just seven at-bats and one hit in the first two rounds of the postseason, is the most likely candidate, with Marlon Anderson (1-for-6, .167 in postseason) another.

Red Sox: David Ortiz. Bats behind Ramirez to give Boston fearsome duo in middle of lineup. Hit .301 with 41 HRs and team-leading 139 RBIs. MVP of the LCS with three homers and 11 RBIs.

Edge: Red Sox

STARTING PITCHING

Cardinals: RH Woody Williams, RH Jason Marquis, RH Matt Morris, RH Jeff Suppan. Marquis (15 wins) and Suppan (16) put together career years. Carpenter is still out with nerve damage and Morris has had up-and-down season, leaving Williams as the de facto ace.

Red Sox: RH Tim Wakefield, RH Curt Schilling, RH Pedro Martinez, RH Derek Lowe. After the knuckleballing Wakefield (12-10, 4.87) starts the opener, Schilling (21-6, 3.26 ERA) starts in Game 2. Martinez (16-9, 3.90), who pitches Game 3, has struggled when he goes past 100 pitches.

Edge: Red Sox

RELIEF PITCHING

Cardinals: RH Jason Isringhausen, RH Julian Tavarez, LH Ray King, LH Steve Kline, RH Kiko Calero, RH Dan Haren, RH Cal Eldred. St. Louis' bullpen had a 3.01 ERA, best in the NL. Isringhausen had career-best 47 saves in 54 opportunities. Can lefty-righty the opposition with Tavarez, King, Kline.

Red Sox: RH Keith Foulke, RH Mike Timlin, LH Alan Embree, RH Derek Lowe, LH Mike Myers, RH Curtis Leskanic. Foulke (5-3, 2.17, 32/39 saves) is far from automatic, but he has help in deep bullpen that was the key to LCS victory, shutting out Yankees for the final six innings of Game 4.

Edge: Even

BENCH

Cardinals: UT Marlon Anderson, UT John Mabry, OF Roger Cedeno, UT Hector Luna, C Yadier Molina, OF So Taguchi. There's a lot of flexibility with this group. Luna has played five positions, Mabry four. Anderson tied for NL lead with 17 pinch-hits. Taguchi is often a late defensive replacement.

Red Sox: 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, INF Pokey Reese, OF Dave Roberts, OF Gabe Kapler, 3B Kevin Youkilis, C Doug Mirabelli. Strong group with stellar gloves and plenty of experience, other than Youkilis. Not much power, though. Roberts provides speed. Mirabelli can hit. He catches Wakefield.

Edge: Cardinals

MANAGER

Cardinals: Tony La Russa. This is his 10th postseason appearance and it's one of his best managing jobs.

Red Sox: Terry Francona. In his first season after replacing Grady Little, he led his team to a surge after Aug. 16 and Boston finished 98-64, winning the AL wild card.

Edge: Cardinals

PREDICTION

Cardinals in 7 — in the end, history will repeat