Cardinals left fielder Reggie Sanders, the offensive star of St. Louis's postseason, went down hard in the eighth inning and suffered a lower back sprain. His availability for Saturday's Game 3 is undetermined, according to Barry Weinberg, the Cardinals' head athletic trainer.

"We'll have to get to tomorrow and see," Weinberg said. "He's got a headache, and just some general body soreness."

Sanders took an awkward fall while trying to snare a ball off the bat of Houston's Adam Everett. His head appeared to snap back and slam onto the warning track. The ball turned into a triple, and Sanders was taken off the field through a door in the outfield wall.

Ausmus Won't Take Chance

The strange ending to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels has changed the way at least one catcher will act in the future.

Houston Astros catcher Brad Ausmus was asked Thursday if a catcher should always tag the batter if he is not sure whether the ball hit the dirt on a strikeout.

"If in my mind I think it's close, I'm going to tag him," Ausmus said.

Ausmus said that after watching several replays of Wednesday's controversial call, he thought Angels catcher Josh Paul had caught the ball without it hitting the dirt. But even then, as a catcher, he said you should probably always tag a batter to make sure of the out.

"I can see both sides of the issue," Ausmus said.

Perhaps the best evidence for Ausmus that it never struck the dirt was that Paul didn't look at the ball after making the catch. Ausmus said most catchers look at a ball that has hit the dirt on a third strike for the last out of an inning because they want to make sure it has no scuff marks.

"Josh Paul didn't even look at the ball," Ausmus said.

Ausmus said he didn't think that Paul failed to make the tag because of plate umpire Doug Eddings's apparent strike call.

"The catcher generally can't see what the mechanics of the strike call is because he has his back to [the umpire]," Ausmus said. . . .

Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte, who was struck in the right knee during batting practice prior to Wednesday's Game 1, likely will be able to make his next start, which would be Game 5.

"He feels a little sore," Houston Manager Phil Garner said. "He's better today. He's going to be fine. I guess I could say the bruise is sort of diffused somewhat so he doesn't have a big hole the size of a watermelon on his knee now. He's sore but just fine. I feel 100 percent that he will be okay to make his next start."

Garner said he thought Pettitte had been affected by the sore knee on Wednesday night, though the pitcher wouldn't admit it. In his first loss since Aug. 16, Pettitte allowed five runs in six innings, including a two-run homer to Sanders.