Houston (84-69) at St. Louis (79-76)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 24° F
  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Sat Sep 20, 2003
  • TV: KNWS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Astros look to stay on top of the NL Central as they face St. Louis Cardinals in the middle game of their series at Busch Stadium.

The Astros got home runs from Jeff Bagwell and Richard Hidalgo in an 8-1 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night. The second-place Cubs dropped 1 1/2 games back by splitting a doubleheader at Pittsburgh.

“This is a huge win for us,” Bagwell said. “Right now all the games we win are huge.”

Houston has won six of seven and is a season-best 15 games above .500. The Cardinals are nearly out of the race, trailing by six games with seven to play.

“It’s a light at the end of the tunnel for them,” St. Louis’ Eduardo Perez said. “They’re in a pennant race and they did what they had to do to win.”

The Astros have beaten the Cardinals five straight times, including a sweep last weekend in Houston that knocked St. Louis back into the pack. The Astros are 11-5 overall against the defending NL Central champions.

In the last four games against the Cardinals, the Astros have won by a combined score of 28-7. The Astros have won 11 games in a season against St. Louis for the first time in franchise history, topping a 10-8 record in 1966.

STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Cardinals - 3rd place, 6 GB, NL Central.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Redding (9-14, 3.80 ERA). In his last start, Redding combined with three relievers on a three-hitter to beat St. Louis 4-1 on Sunday. He allowed one run and three hits in six innings. Redding had been 0-5 in six starts since beating Florida on Aug. 1. The Astros scored an average of 1.6 runs in those losses. Redding has made six career appearances—five starts—against the Cardinals, going 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA.

CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (13-8, 5.27 ERA). The veteran right-hander, unbeaten in his last five starts, is seeking his career-high 14th win. In his last start, he was on the winning end of an 11-2 win at Milwaukee on Monday, allowing two runs and six hits over eight innings. Tomko has made nine career starts against the Astros in his career, going 3-4 with a 5.30 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .318 avg.; Bagwell, 37 HRs, 95 RBIs, 106 runs and 11 SBs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .365 avg., 42 HRs, 123 RBIs and 130 runs; Edgar Renteria, 34 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Astros, 11-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Bagwell is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with four homers and 10 RBIs in his career against RHP Tomko. … RHP Redding is 3-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 road starts this season. … Jeff Kent is 5-for-20 in his career against RHP Tomko. Cardinals - OF Pujols is hitting .462 (6-for-13) in his career against RHP Redding. … Left-handed batters are hitting .319 against RHP Tomko this season. … 3B Scott Rolen is 3-for-13 in his career against RHP Redding.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 39-40 on the road; Cardinals - 46-33 at home.

INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Journell (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Redding TOR vs. B. Tomko COL
10-14 Record 13-9
3.68 ERA 5.28
116 K 114
65 BB 57
1.39 WHIP 1.52