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Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-26


Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-26
The St. Louis Cardinals didn't have a player reach 80 RBIs the last time they started off as strongly at home as they have this year. At his current pace, Albert Pujols may reach that mark by the All-Star break.

With Pujols coming off a milestone game, the Cardinals look to extend a nine-game home winning streak as they complete a three-game set with the NL Central rival Chicago Cubs Sunday.

St. Louis (13-5) has a chance to win 10 in a row at home for the first time since 2004, when it finished 105-57 en route to the NL pennant.

Winners of 10 of 12 at home and five straight overall, the Cardinals have jumped out to an early lead in the NL Central. St. Louis is off to its best start at home since winning 12 of its first 14 in 1968.

The Cardinals managed to win the NL pennant that season even though Mike Shannon was their top run producer with 79 RBIs. Pujols already has 25.

He hit his second grand slam of the year Saturday, surpassing 1,000 RBIs for his career in St. Louis' 8-2 victory over Chicago.

The veteran first baseman's four RBIs gave him 1,002 in his career. Only five other Cardinals players have reached that milestone: Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Jim Bottomley, Rogers Hornsby and Kenny Boyer.

"What a player," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "It's a pleasure to watch him play. Actually, it's a pleasure to watch him practice. It's a pleasure to watch him in the clubhouse. It's a pleasure to watch him in the community. He's an amazing man."

Pujols, who notched his eighth career grand slam, is hitting .348 with seven homers this season. He's easily on pace to surpass his career high for RBIs in a season - 137 in just 143 games during the 2006 season.

The Cubs (8-8), meanwhile, are slumping, scoring a total of five runs during a four-game losing streak.

"It's not good. Boy, we certainly haven't done much offensively in a while," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "It's got to get better."

Even Alfonso Soriano is cooling off for the defending NL Central champions. He had a 10-game hitting streak end Saturday, striking out three times and popping out in his only other at-bat.

Soriano, 1-for-8 since Piniella moved him into the No. 3 spot at the start of this series, has struggled in 21 games at St. Louis, batting .241 (21-for-87) with 25 strikeouts.

The All-Star left fielder scored two runs to help Rich Harden (1-1, 4.20) - Sunday's scheduled starter for the Cubs - earn his first win of the season Tuesday night. He allowed two runs and three hits while striking out eight in six innings as Chicago beat Cincinnati 7-2.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts versus the Cardinals.

St. Louis will counter with Todd Wellemeyer (1-1, 5.29 ERA), who struggled in his last start, allowing four runs and 10 hits in five innings before St. Louis rallied to beat the New York Mets 6-4 on Tuesday night.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance against the Cubs.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 26, 2009

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