The Houston Astros were having enough trouble scoring runs against the teams chasing first place in the NL Central. It’s the same story against the division leaders.
Houston’s anemic offense keeps searching for signs of life in the middle game of a weekend series with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.
The Astros were shut out for a major league-leading 10th time Saturday in the opener of this series, falling 2-0 to the Cardinals. It was the fourth time Houston has been blanked in its last 11 games.
“I don’t know if we’re pressing or not,” said Astros shortstop Adam Everett. “We had some opportunities today, and we hit the ball hard but just right at someone.”
In their previous three series against Central rivals Chicago, Milwaukee and Cincinnati, the Astros were held to four runs or fewer in seven of nine games. They’ve averaged just 2.4 runs in their last 14 games overall.
The Houston offense will be helped if St. Louis starter Jason Marquis continues to battle control problems.
Marquis takes the mound Saturday after walking 16 batters in his last three starts, spanning 15 innings.
The Astros counter with rookie Willie Rodriguez, who will be making his home debut after splitting his first two starts in the majors.
Rodriguez now faces one of the best lineups in baseball, led by Albert Pujols.
The All-Star first baseman homered Friday and recorded his third consecutive multihit game. Pujols’ batting average has remained above .320 throughout the last month.
Center fielder Jim Edmonds was in the lineup Friday, and contributed an RBI double, despite tweaking his ankle on defense Thursday.
“It’s just a little sore,” Edmonds said. “I’ll just tape it up a little tighter and be smarter about it.”
St. Louis has split its last six games following a five-game winning streak.