Houston (27-26) at St. Louis (33-19)

  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Wed May 31, 2006
  • TV: ESPN, FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals look to avoid losing their first series at Busch Stadium this season when they wrap up a three-game set with the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

The Cardinals (33-19) opened their new ballpark April 10, and are tied with Toronto and the Chicago White Sox for the most home wins in the majors with 19.

St. Louis has won all eight series at the new Busch, but a loss on Wednesday will end that run after it fell 6-3 to Houston (27-26) on Tuesday. The Cardinals won 3-1 in the first game of the series on Monday.

Pujols, who leads the majors with 25 homers and 64 RBIs, went 1-for-3 with a single on Tuesday. He is just 5-for-28 (.179) with one home run and three RBIs in the Cardinals’ eight home losses.

Scott Rolen went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a homer on Tuesday, and is 8-for-20 (.400) with two home runs in his last five games. He improved to 20-for-75 (.267) in 21 home games this season compared to batting .389 (28-for-72) in 20 road contests.

St. Louis allowed five runs in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game—the most they’ve given up in an inning at home all season.

Jeff Suppan (5-4, 5.12 ERA), who hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his five home starts this season, will try for the second time to earn his 100th victory when he pitches on Wednesday.

Suppan allowed seven runs and nine hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss at San Diego on Friday. The right-hander has struggled in his career against Houston, going 2-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 10 appearances.

While St. Louis is 11 games above .500 at home, the Astros are 9-17 on the road, including a 3-6 mark on their current 10-game trip. Tuesday’s victory improved Houston to 11-18 this month, avoiding the franchise’s worst May record of 10-19 set last year and in 2000.

“We can always say, hey, we’ve got a better record than we did last year,” closer Brad Lidge said after getting the last three outs for his 14th save in 17 chances. “We were 15-30 and we still went to the World Series.”

Craig Biggio went 2-for-4 with a double and two-run homer on Tuesday to snap a 2-for-21 slump. His sixth-inning double was the 624th of his career, tying him with Hank Aaron for ninth on the all-time list. The 19-year veteran is 5-for-26 (.192) in his career against Suppan.

Houston rookie Taylor Buchholz (3-4, 5.57) will be looking for some consistency when he makes his ninth start on Wednesday. The right-hander allowed a season-high nine runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings in a 12-5 loss to Pittsburgh last Friday after throwing a five-hitter in a win over Texas in his previous outing.

“I got behind a bunch of guys and left same fat pitches right over the middle and they hit them pretty good,” he said. “It’s part of being a rookie, you take your ups and downs.”

Buchholz is 1-3 with a 8.51 ERA on the road this season.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Buchholz NYM vs. J. Suppan SD
6-10 Record 12-7
5.89 ERA 4.12
77 K 104
34 BB 69
1.25 WHIP 1.45