Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt said his start in Wednesday's Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals compares in magnitude only to his outing in the 2000 Olympics against South Korea in the semifinals of the medal round.

The U.S. team won that game, 3-2, on a home run by Doug Mientkiewicz, now with the New York Mets. Oswalt allowed both runs in six innings.

"If we didn't win my game," Oswalt said, "we competed for the bronze medal instead of the gold medal. So it was a little pressure there."

Instead of a medal, a World Series berth -- it would be the first in franchise history -- is at stake Wednesday.

"I won't treat it any different than any other game," Oswalt said. "I'll do what I do. I'm going to go after hitters."

Oswalt allowed one run in seven innings in a 4-1 win against the Cardinals in Game 2 at Busch Stadium. Oswalt said he welcomed the opportunity to pitch at Busch, which will be razed after the season, one last time.

"This stadium has a lot of baseball memories in it and to come back here and pitch in this stadium before it's gone is great," Oswalt said.

Nunez Likely to Start

Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said third baseman Abraham Nunez, who suffered a bruised left quadriceps in Game 3, will likely start on Wednesday.

"I know he worked out," La Russa said. "I watched some of it. Unless I go in there and find out something that wasn't obvious, I expect him to start."

Nunez said his leg felt much better on Tuesday. For several days, Nunez was unable to hit, run or field. But he practiced, mostly without pain, on Tuesday.

"I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent ready to go," Nunez said. "It's up to the boss now."

Ho, Ho, Ho

Reliever Julian Tavarez was the only St. Louis player who did not get a good view of Albert Pujols's two-out, ninth-inning, three-run homer in Monday's 5-4 win. Tavarez, who was warming up in the bullpen, watched a replay of the homer in the clubhouse.

"It was like Santa Claus had come with a Christmas gift," Tavarez said. . . .

Neither Oswalt nor Astros General Manager Tim Purpura believed closer Brad Lidge would be affected by giving up the home run to Pujols.

"I don't think this will do much to Brad Lidge," Purpura said. "I think he'll come right back and do what he's done through his whole career. He's a battler. He's a fighter."

After not allowing a run against the Cardinals in 92/3 consecutive postseason innings, Lidge has allowed four runs in his past three innings against St. Louis.