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      Squirrel helps Cardinals win big game

      The Busch Stadium Rally Squirrel may need to find a new home. Ballpark officials are trying to a catch a squirrel that ran onto the field during both games of the NL playoffs in St. Louis this week, including a scamper across home plate. The squirrel quickly became a fan favorite. Vice-president of stadium operations Joe Abernathy believes two or three squirrels have made their home at 6-year-old Busch Stadium.

      Reports are that seven traps have been set up by the team groundskeeper to catch the squirrel or squirrels. The traps are baited with peanut butter, then a gate closes behind it. The squirrel can then be taken elsewhere. The squirrel that dashed across the plate jumped to the box seats Wednesday night. Earlier in that game, a squirrel was sighted on a walkway just past the green expanse beyond the centre field wall, and another was seen along foul territory down the third-base line.

      Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt said he was distracted by the squirrel's appearance during his delivery of an inside pitch called a ball. Oswalt and manager Charlie Manuel were unsuccessful in getting home plate umpire Angel Hernandez to give them a do-over. If it ran up the guy's leg, was he going to call the pitch a strike? Oswalt said. I was wondering what size of animal it needed to be for it not to be a pitch. The Cardinals won that game, sending the opening-round playoff series to a deciding Game 5 in Philadelphia that the Cardinals won.

      Businesses around St. Louis have exploited the squirrel's apperance to make some extra money. One company Sportsprint began printing Rally Squirrel tee shirts Thursday afternoon. The Cardinal fans took it as a positive omen, and Ralph Rockamann saw an opportunity. As soon as we saw the squirrel on there I made a phone call to the art staff and they responded very well, he said. Now he's cranking out the shirts, but a Cardinal win is what TMs necessary to keep them from being a waste of time and money. The shirts aren TMt likely to sell if the Cards are knocked out of the playoffs. But if they win, Rally Squirrel could be a big money rallying cry for the rest of the postseason. For more info go to