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News » Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-30


Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-30


Pirates-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-30
St. Louis struggled with runners in scoring position against the Pittsburgh Pirates two weeks ago. The Cardinals have been much better in those situations since, and it is has been reflected in their record.

The Cardinals look to avenge one of their two series losses at home on the season when they open a four-game set with the Pirates on Friday night.

St. Louis (32-23) is 2-3 against Pittsburgh (25-28) this season, including a three-game series at Busch Stadium from May 13-15 in which it lost two of three. The only other home series the Cardinals have lost this season was from April 18-20, when they went 1-2 versus San Francisco.

With 37 runners left on base against the Pirates, the Cardinals had plenty of opportunities for a successful series, but hit .176 (6-for-34) with runners in scoring position.

St. Louis, however, is batting .285 (10-for-35) in those situations over its last 11 games, winning eight times in that span. The Cardinals have won four straight series and are within one game of moving 10 games over .500, which would match a season best.

Chris Duncan drove in two runs with a single in the first inning to lead St. Louis to a 3-2 win over Houston on Thursday night. Duncan went 1-for-3, but is batting .213 (13-for-61) this month.

"Everybody knows around here how hard he works to get his swing back," Cardinals right fielder Skip Schumaker told the team's official Web site. "He's constantly looking at video, constantly hitting early, constantly in the cage. Nobody pulls more for Chris than his teammates."

Albert Pujols, meanwhile, homered to cap a 6-for-10 series. He is batting .529 (9-for-17) versus the Pirates this season, and .447 (17-for-38) in his last 10 games against them.

Pujols went 2-for-5 with an RBI in St. Louis' 5-1 win over Pittsburgh on May 14, a game in which Todd Wellemeyer (5-1, 3.36 ERA) dominated. Wellemeyer, who will take the mound Friday, gave up one run and two hits while striking out five in seven innings to earn a win.

It was the second start against the Pirates this season for Wellemeyer, who is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in three starts and 11 relief appearances against them all-time.

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in five starts this month. In his last outing, Wellemeyer gave up three runs and five hits in six innings as St. Louis lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

Wellemeyer allowed a home run in the first inning after not surrendering one in his previous five starts, spanning 30 innings. He'll be facing a Pittsburgh team that has homered seven times in its last four games.

Jason Bay and Xavier Nady each homered to lead the Pirates to a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night, helping Pittsburgh salvage the finale of a three-game series.

The Pirates got a strong effort on the mound after giving up nine runs in each of the series' first two games.

Now, Pittsburgh will hand the ball to Zach Duke (2-3, 4.55), who is 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA in his last two starts. The left-hander allowed five runs - four earned - and 10 hits in four innings as Pittsburgh lost 12-3 to the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.

Duke's only career appearance against St. Louis was on May 22, 2007, when he gave up six runs - five earned - and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings as Pittsburgh lost 9-4.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 30, 2008

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