After getting handcuffed by Mark Prior, the St. Louis Cardinals are hoping Woody Williams can outduel Chicago Cubs right-hander Kerry Wood as the NL Central rivals continue a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
The Cubs won for only the third time in 14 games at Busch Stadium over the last two seasons, and moved a half-game ahead of the Cardinals for second place in the tight NL Central. Chicago is just a half-game behind first-place Houston.
Tuesday marked the first of eight games in 11 days between the rivals.
Simon, acquired from Milwaukee, is 10-for-27 with two homers and nine RBIs in eight games with the Cubs.
Albert Pujols hit his 35th home run in the sixth inning Tuesday to snap an 0-for-13 slump after his major league season-high 30-game hitting streak. Pujols is 6-for-11 against Prior this year with three homers and three RBIs.
The Cardinals have struggled with their rotation all season, with Williams being the lone constant. The veteran right-hander is 14-6 with a 3.52 ERA.
Williams has flourished at home this season, going 10-3 with a 2.97 ERA in 15 starts at Busch. The Cardinals’ ace has been a hard-luck loser of last, however, going 0-3 with a 3.98 ERA over his last five starts.
The Cubs are hoping Wood can follow Prior’s outing with a gem of his own.
He is 11-10 with a 3.80 record this year, but has struggled of late. The 26-year-old fireballer hasn’t won since Aug. 6, going 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA over his last three starts.
Wood is 5-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 13 career starts against St. Louis.
STANDINGS: Cubs - 3rd place, 1/2 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 1st place (tied), NL Central.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Wood (11-10, 3.80 ERA). Wood was roughed up for five runs and six hits in four innings of a 9-3 loss to Houston on Thursday.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Williams (14-6, 3.52 ERA). Williams didn’t receive a decision despite allowing only one run in 6 2-3 innings of the Cardinals’ 6-3 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cubs - Mark Grudzielanek, .305 avg.; Sammy Sosa, 30 HRs; Ramirez, 85 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 77 runs and 27 SBs. Cardinals - Pujols, .362 avg., 35 HRs, 110 RBIs and 111 runs; Edger Renteria, 26 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 6-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - RHP Wood leads the NL with 208 strikeouts. … The Cubs have hit back-to-back homers seven times this season … OF Doug Glanville is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with a homer career against RHP Williams. Cardinals - OF Pujols is hitting .304 (7-for-23) with three home runs in his career against Wood. … Williams, 37, is 2-3 with a 3.55 ERA in seven career starts against Chicago. … LHP Sterling Hitchcock, acquired from the New York Yankees earlier this week, is 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two appearances for St. Louis.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 36-30 on the road; Cardinals - 38-28 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - INF Grudzielanek (hand), 15-day DL; OF Corey Patterson (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF J.D. Drew (oblique), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.