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News » Cardinals-Astros Preview 2008-08-30

Cardinals-Astros Preview 2008-08-30

Cardinals-Astros Preview 2008-08-30
The St. Louis Cardinals' deficit in the NL wild card race isn't insurmountable, but they also know they can't afford to let it get that way.

The Cardinals try to bounce back from a tough loss when they continue their three-game series against the Houston Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

St. Louis (74-61) dropped the opener of this series 3-2 on Friday on Lance Berkman's two-out, walk-off home run. The Cardinals had led 2-0 after six innings, but David Newhan tied the game with a two-run homer off Kyle Lohse in the seventh.

"If you think about it, it's just in passing like 'Oh, that'd be nice to hit one one of these days," said Berkman, who has 286 homers but hadn't hit one to end a game prior to Friday. "I'm sure if you play long enough, you're going to."

Berkman is batting .414 (12-for-29) with four doubles and two homers in the last nine games.

Friday's win was the third straight for Houston (69-66), which remains highly unlikely to make the postseason, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 9 1/2 games for the NL wild card.

The Cardinals fell 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers with the loss. They are also 11 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central - their largest deficit in a division race since they finished 21 1/2 games out in 1999. Giving St. Louis a glint of hope, the Cards have six games remaining against the Cubs.

"We've still got time," Lohse told the Cardinals' official Web site. "It's running out quick, but the only thing I can say is look at the team I was on last year (the Phillies). We were down seven with 17 to go. Don't count on a Hail Mary like that every year, but it shows that it can be done."

The Cardinals look to bounce back Saturday when they hand the ball to Braden Looper (12-10, 3.94 ERA), who has pitched extremely well recently despite mixed results.

Looper pitched seven innings for the sixth consecutive start on Sunday, allowing three runs and six hits in a 6-3 win over the Braves. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA in his last seven starts.

"I've got really good fastball command right now," Looper said. "If I can maintain that, it gives me a chance to succeed."

Looper is 7-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 38 career appearances against the Astros, including eight starts.

Houston starter Brian Moehler (9-5, 3.99) takes the mound with a new sense of security after the Astros announced on Friday that his contract had been extended through the 2009 season.

Moehler, who will make $2.3 million plus bonuses, also will have a mutual option for 2010.

The right-hander lost for the first time since July 4 on Monday, after he gave up four runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 9-1 defeat to the New York Mets. Moehler had won his previous five decisions.

Moehler is 3-0 with a 4.07 ERA in six starts and eight career relief appearances against the Cardinals.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: August 30, 2008

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