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News » Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-07


Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-07


Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-07
Albert Pujols continues to dominate Pittsburgh pitching. He may need yet another big game if St. Louis Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer falters against the Pirates again.

With Pujols in a home run groove, the Cardinals hope Wellemeyer can avoid another poor effort against the struggling Pirates in the finale of a two-game set Thursday.

Pujols went 4 for 4 and homered for the fourth time in five games as St. Louis (18-10) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh (12-15) on Wednesday night.

The All-Star first baseman is batting .611 (11 for 18) with two homers and three RBIs in five games versus the Pirates this season and .371 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 490 career at-bats against them.

"What I can tell you is I haven't changed anything," Pujols said. "I just try to be aggressive every time, in every series."

Batting .364 with 11 homers on the season, Pujols and the Cardinals' lineup will try to give Wellemeyer (2-2, 5.28 ERA) some run support against a team he has struggled against.

The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA in seven starts and 11 relief appearances versus the Pirates, but he was terrible against them in his first outing of the season. He gave up five runs and 12 hits in five innings as the Cardinals lost 7-4 on April 8.

It was the first of three poor starts at home this season, where Wellemeyer is 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA.

He earned a win at Washington in his last start, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings as St. Louis won 6-2 on Friday night.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said it's unlikely Rick Ankiel will be behind Wellemeyer in center field Thursday in the last game of a four-game homestand. Ankiel was out of the lineup Wednesday, two days after crashing into the outfield wall while making a running catch.

Colby Rasmus has started two straight games in center field. The 22-year-old rookie is batting .158 (3 for 19) in his last seven games.

Rasmus went hitless in three at-bats Wednesday. Still, the Cardinals' lineup produced just enough to beat the Pirates and their struggling pitching staff.

Poor pitching has played a large role in Pittsburgh's slump, posting a 5.49 ERA as the Pirates have lost eight of their last nine games. Pittsburgh hurlers have allowed a homer in nine of the last 10 games, 13 total over that span.

"We've got to keep grinding," Pirates first baseman Andy LaRoche said. "We can't get down on ourselves."

Pittsburgh will now turn to Ross Ohlendorf (3-2, 3.48), who has been one of its most consistent starters. A 2.70 ERA and a .191 opponents' batting average has helped him win three straight starts.

The right-hander gave up three runs and six hits in six innings as Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati 8-6 on Saturday night.

Ohlendorf faced the Cardinals for the first time April 9. He was a hard-luck loser, surrendering two runs and seven hits in six innings as the Pirates were defeated 2-1.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 7, 2009

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