ST. LOUIS — Are the Los Angeles Dodgers getting on the St. Louis Cardinals' nerves?
Much has been made in the National League Championship Series about the Dodgers' openly emotional style, which contrasts to the Cardinals' comparatively subdued approach.
Rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig has been a favorite target of criticism from Cardinals fans and many in the media, with normally even-keeled first baseman Adrian Gonzalez also high on the list.
Gonzalez used his hands to represent Mickey Mouse ears when he hit the first of his two home runs Wednesday in the Dodgers' 6-4 victory in Game 5 that cut their deficit in the series to 3-2.
The antic was in reference to Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who said Gonzalez was doing "Mickey Mouse stuff" when he celebrated a double in Game 3 on Monday.
"We've been very consistent with how we think about this," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Thursday. "We understand it's our responsibility to take care of ourselves. That's a big responsibility and we've got a lot to take care of. So we're going to stay there.
"Other teams are going to do whatever they need to do in order to prepare themselves and have their guys ready. As far as evaluating clubs, once again, it's our job to evaluate ourselves on a daily basis to make sure we're going about it the way that we want to go about it. It's not our right, it's not our responsibility to dictate how other teams go about theirs."
If the Dodgers are rankling the Cardinals, Matheny -- a tough, businesslike performer in his playing days --didn't acknowledge it.
"Are things getting under our guys' skin?" Matheny said. "Our guys want to compete. We're out there not to make friends. We're out there not to necessarily do anything except win. That's our job. We're going to go about it the way that we can. Regardless of what the other club does, that's going to be our goal and our initiative."
Craig to take BP
First baseman/right fielder Allen Craig, sidelined with a sprained left foot, will hit against live pitching Friday before Game 5, scheduled to begin at 7:37 p.m.
Craig was going to hit Thursday, but the Cardinals opted against working out at Busch Stadium to recover from the trip to Los Angeles.
"We'll go out early (Friday) and have some live pitchers throw to Allen," Matheny said. "We're excited to watch him continue to take steps forward. We just felt that (Thursday) would be a good day for guys to shut down and stay away from the yard."
One of the pitchers throwing to Craig will be left-hander Jaime Garcia, who is on the mend from shoulder surgery.
The Cardinals scored two runs in the ninth inning Wednesday against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and had the tying runs on base when pinch-hitter Adron Chambers struck out to end the game.
Matheny is a big believer in momentum and said that a rally like that can carry over into the next game, even if it is played two days later.
"I believe we had a momentum shift," he said. "You're always trying to ride that momentum somewhat, but it does come down to the next day and the next opportunity to move the momentum forward.
"I think there's a lot of positive things there. ... Whenever you realize you get to a closer or make a push in the late innings, that's always a reinforcement to what your club has the ability to do, the kind of heart and character that they have.
"It reinforces that thing that we've been talking about, especially the last couple of months, about our club and our ability to not give in and just keep pushing. It comes down to wins and losses. We lost 6-4 and it wasn't enough. Our guys know that. But we also aren't afraid to look at some of the positive that came out of it."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.