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News » Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-24


Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-24


Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-24
Albert Pujols is again producing MVP-type numbers, but the St. Louis Cardinals' slugger was quiet last weekend against the Chicago Cubs.

After bouncing back in his team's most recent series, Pujols will look for a better performance as the NL Central Division rivals begin a three-game series Friday night in St. Louis.

Recent history shows the Cardinals star could have a strong showing at home versus Chicago, and reach a milestone in the process.

In leading St. Louis to a home sweep of the New York Mets on Thursday, Pujols hit two home runs in a 12-8 victory. He finished with three hits, drove in three, and matched a career high with four runs scored.

"If my swing is good, I'm going to hit the ball hard everywhere," he said. "My job is to try to see a pitch I can hit, and drive it."

Through 16 games, the reigning NL MVP is hitting .345 with six home runs and an league-best 21 RBIs, leaving him two shy of 1,000 in his career.

"Perfect player, in my opinion," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're lucky to have him, believe me."

But Pujols was far from perfect in Chicago a week ago, finishing 1-for-9 with one RBI. While the St. Louis star is 1-for-15 in his last five at Wrigley Field, he's had a hit in 14 consecutive home games against the Cubs, posting a .377 average with five home runs and 15 RBIs in that span.

After dropping two of three in Chicago for its only series loss this season, St. Louis (11-5) bounced back to outscore the Mets 23-14 in three wins. Since splitting their opening four games with Pittsburgh, the Cardinals have won 10 of their last 13.

They will look to keep rolling behind one of their remaining healthy starters in Adam Wainwright. Chris Carpenter is on the 15-day disabled list after pulling a rib cage muscle April 14, and Kyle Lohse twisted his right knee in the fifth inning Thursday.

The extent of Lohse's injury is unknown.

Wainwright (2-0, 3.31 ERA) gave up four runs in six innings but earned the win in Thursday's series opener in Chicago. The right-hander has won two straight starts against the Cubs but is 0-3 with a 5.96 ERA versus Chicago at home.

He'll face an offense that struggled in its final two home games against Cincinnati, including a 7-1 defeat Thursday. After recording at least seven runs in three straight games, Chicago (8-6) scored one run in its consecutive defeats and committed a pair of errors in each loss.

"We've thrown the ball away, haven't hit when we have had opportunities with men on base," manager Lou Piniella said. "It's just been two very ... lackluster games."

After his staff tied a season high by giving up seven runs, Piniella will look to Ryan Dempster (1-0, 5.00).

Dempster is 4-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 12 career starts against St. Louis, but 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in his last four meetings, allowing four runs over six innings Saturday before the Cubs rallied for an 11-inning victory.

Pujols has faced Dempster the most of any current Cardinals player, hitting .250 (8-for-32) with two home runs and seven RBIs. Wainwright has given up the most career hits to Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has hit .391 (9-for-23).


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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