St. Louis (17-11) at Houston (18-9)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 87° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu May 4, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

In a rematch from last season’s NL championship series, Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter and Andy Pettitte will square off on the mound when the St. Louis Cardinals meet the Houston Astros in the finale of their two-game series Thursday at Minute Maid Park.

Carpenter won Game 1 and picked up a no-decision in Game 5, going 15 innings total, allowing six runs, 14 hits while striking out nine.

The left-handed Pettitte lost Game 1 and also got a no-decision in Game 5. He allowed seven runs and 15 hits with six strikeouts in 11 1-3 innings.

St. Louis’ only two wins in the NLCS came when Carpenter took the mound. Houston went on to win the series 4-2 for its first NL pennant.

Through the first five weeks of this season, Carpenter has continued his award-winning form while Pettitte continues to struggle.

Carpenter (3-1, 1.80 ERA) is among the league leaders in ERA and has allowed four runs in his last five starts. He did not factor in the decision in his last outing after giving up one run and nine hits through seven innings in a 2-1 win over Saturday over Washington.

“I did what I had to do to keep our team in the game,” said Carpenter, who was 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the regular season last year at Houston.

Pettitte (1-4, 5.25), who has the highest ERA in the Astros’ rotation, struggled in his last start. He gave up six runs and 11 hits in only five innings Saturday during a 6-3 loss to Cincinnati.

“The first three innings, I couldn’t have felt more in control,” Pettitte said.

Pettitte was 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in two home starts last season against St. Louis (17-11).

He will try to build on the momentum created by Houston’s 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Houston’s Lance Berkman, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs on Wednesday, and is hitting .364 (16-for-44) with four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 11 games.

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hit his major league-leading 15th home run in Wednesday’s loss, after missing a game with a stiff back.

“It’s not like I’m 100 percent today,” Pujols said. “I was struggling with my swing. I was trying to fight through. But if I’m 65 to 75 percent I can still help my team win. That’s how I feel right now.”

The slugger leads the NL with 29 walls and that may increase as the Cardinals expect Scott Rolen, who usually hits behind him in the lineup, to return on Thursday.

The power-hitting third baseman missed eight games with tracheal viral bronchitis, which caused him to lose 10 pounds. He was 5-for-7 with three doubles in his last two games before getting sick.

“I’ve come a long way in the last three or four days,” Rolen said, “from laying in my bed with cold sweats at 103 and a half degrees. Just to get out of the house is like a vacation.”

St. Louis is trying to avoid a season-high fourth loss in a row. Houston (18-9) is looking for its third straight win and fourth in five games.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Carpenter StL vs. A. Pettitte NYY
15-8 Record 14-13
3.09 ERA 4.20
184 K 178
43 BB 70
1.07 WHIP 1.44