Arizona (19-15) at St. Louis (22-13)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Fri May 12, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the St. Louis Cardinals may have been thankful for an off day Thursday, Albert Pujols was less than enthusiastic about the break.

Pujols, who leads the major leagues with 18 homers, may be concerned about how the day off will affect his sore back when St. Louis (22-13) play against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday in the start of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.

“Sometimes with things like this, sometimes a day off will actually make it worse because it gets stiff,” Pujols said. “We’ll see how it’s going, just take it one day at a time.”

With a homer Wednesday in a 7-4 win over Colorado, Pujols joined Cy Williams of the 1923 Philadelphia Phillies as the only players to hit 18 homers in 35 games.

“I just try to be ready for every pitch that they throw me, make sure it’s in the zone I’m looking for, and that’s it,” Pujols said. “There’s nothing secret.”

If Pujols starts, he will face Juan Cruz (1-0, 2.05 ERA) who is making his third start after seven relief appearances for Arizona (19-15). He beat the Chicago Cubs on May 4, allowing just four hits in five innings in the 6-0 victory.

The right-hander has made 11 appearances against the Cardinals in his career, three as a starter in 2001 and 2002—his first two seasons in the majors—when he was with the Cubs. He is 2-3 with a 3.46 ERA overall against St. Louis.

Pujols is 2-for-9 with a double and two walks and three strikeouts against Cruz.

Mark Mulder (3-1, 4.44) has faced Arizona twice in his career—recording complete-game shutouts each time. On July 6, 2001 while with Oakland, the left-hander tossed a one-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 3-0 victory.

Mulder limited the Diamondbacks to five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in the Cards’ 5-0 triumph.

Mulder gave up three runs and six hits in six innings and drove in a run with a double in the Cards’ 7-6 win over Florida for his 100th career win.

“A hundred is cool, but there’s a lot more to go after this,” Mulder said. “Once you get it you say, `You know what? Let’s work on getting No. 200.’ It makes it that more fun.”

While the Cardinals enjoyed a day off, Arizona’s series finale with Pittsburgh was postponed by rain. The Diamondbacks, winners of eight of their last 10, could have tied Colorado for first place in the NL West with a win.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, though. expressed irritation that the game was called after just 90 minutes.

“It’s a little confusing that we’ve got some time here but, for whatever reason, it’s canceled—I guess because they forecast rain for a while,” Melvin said. “We had time to sit around but, obviously, we’re not in charge of that.”

The Diamondbacks have lsot 12 of the last 15 meetings with St. Louis.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Cruz Phi vs. M. Mulder LAA
5-6 Record 6-7
4.18 ERA 7.14
88 K 50
47 BB 35
1.34 WHIP 1.70