Kirk Rueter hopes he’s finally hit rock bottom.
Already struggling through one of the toughest stretches of his career, Rueter looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season as the San Francisco Giants conclude their two-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals at Pacific Bell Park.
The veteran left-hander was reached for eight runs and nine hits over just three innings in Wednesday’s 9-5 loss to the Cardinals. The eight runs matched a career high for Rueter, who has otherwise fared well in his career against St. Louis.
Rueter had been 4-0 against St. Louis since July 22, 1998.
He had given up just five homers in his first 17 starts this season, but the Cardinals hit three straight in the second inning.
“I’ve had stretches like this and I’m just in one of those stretches,” said Rueter, who is 9-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 career starts against St. Louis. “The last two games the hitters have taken a different approach to go the other way. Most teams try to do that and they’ve had good success.
“But that’s the way I pitch. I got balls up and made bad pitches and they hit them out. Next time I’ll try to throw in a little more and try to keep them off-balance.”
The Giants have taken four of five from the Cardinals this season, including Monday’s 5-1 win. Barry Bonds hit his 639th career home run an estimated 471 feet, and Marquis Grissom homered and drove in three runs for San Francisco.
Bonds’ solo shot was his 464th in a Giants uniform, pulling him within five of Willie McCovey, the franchise’s all-time home run king.
Jim Edmonds drove in the Cardinals’ lone run to continue his offensive surge. Edmonds is batting .339 (20-for-59) over his last 14 games with eight homers, 21 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
STANDINGS: Cardinals - 1st place, NL Central. Giants - 1st place, NL West.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Dan Haren (0-1, 3.00 ERA). Haren was called up from Triple-A Memphis on June 30 so that ace Matt Morris could get some additional rest. In his major league debut, the 22-year-old right-hander, who was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA with Memphis, allowed four runs—two earned—and seven hits over six innings in the 5-1 loss to the Giants. He struck out three and walked one.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Rueter (7-3, 4.44 ERA). Opponents are hitting .309 and have a .361 on-base percentage against Rueter, who has struck out just 28 and walked 33 in 103 1-3 innings this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .371 avg., 80 RBIs and 77 runs; Edmonds, 27 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 21 SBs. Giants - Ray Durham, .306 avg.; Bonds, 26 HRs, 54 RBIs and 61 runs; Durham, Bonds and Grissom, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 4-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - 3B Scott Rolen is hitting .444 against LHP Rueter with one double, one triple, two homers and five RBIs in 18 career at-bats. … Since his average hit .391 on June 29, OF Pujols is batting just .161 (5-for-31) over his last eight games. He has three homers and eight RBIs during the stretch. … OF J.D. Drew missed his sixth straight start Monday because of a troublesome knee. Drew has made only a pinch-hit appearance since July 1 and his status for Tuesday’s game remains uncertain. Giants - OF Bonds’ homer Monday was the second-longest he’s hit at 4-year-old Pac Bell. The slugger hit one an estimated 491 feet last Sept. 9. … San Francisco has won its last four series. … C Benito Santiago was held out of the lineup for the third straight game with a dislocated left pinky finger that he injured Friday. His status for Tuesday’s game is uncertain.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 20-24 on the road; Giants - 26-15 at home.
INJURIES: Cardinals - OF Drew (knee), day-to-day; C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; INF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; INF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL. Giants - C Santiago (finger), day-to-day; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL.