St. Louis (38-25) at Pittsburgh (25-40)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 14, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals look to continue their dominance of the Pittsburgh Pirates when the teams play the middle game of their three-game series at PNC Park on Wednesday.

St. Louis is 6-1 against Pittsburgh this season, and hasn’t lost a series to the Pirates since it was swept in three road games from June 28-30, 2004.

The Cardinals are 11-1-3 in the last 15 series between the teams dating to July 2003.

Chris Carpenter allowed three hits and struck out 13 over seven scoreless innings, and Scott Rolen had four hits in St. Louis’ 2-1 win in the series opener Tuesday.

The victory improved the Cardinals (38-25) to 3-1 on their six-game road trip and 4-4 since Albert Pujols was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique June 4.

Rolen is hitting .481 (13-for-27) with one homer and 10 RBIs since Pujols was sidelined.

“We are a good ballclub with (Pujols) in the three-hole, but I think we’re a good enough club to win the division,” Rolen said. “We miss him, we miss his bat, but he’s not there, so I can’t go out there and approach my at-bats any differently because I’m in the 3-hole, rather than 4th or 5th.”

No return date has been set for Pujols, whose 25 home runs lead the majors.

Right-hander Sidney Ponson (4-1, 3.54 ERA) hopes to follow Carpenter’s solid outing with one of his own Wednesday.

Ponson is coming off arguably his worst game this season last Wednesday, when he gave up five runs and five walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-4 loss to Cincinnati. The defeat was Ponson’s first in nine starts with St. Louis, which picked up the pitcher in the offseason after he was released by Baltimore.

Ponson is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.

Craig Wilson drove in his team’s lone run Tuesday with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly for the Pirates (25-40), who had their three-game winning streak snapped to open their seven-game homestand.

The defeat dropped Pittsburgh to 7-19 in one-run games—many of those involving Wednesday starter Zach Duke (4-6, 4.25).

Eight of Duke’s 13 starts have been decided by one run, and the Pirates are 1-7 in those games.

The 23-year-old left-hander nearly notched his third straight win in his last outing, but the bullpen was unable to hold a two-run lead in the final three innings of a 5-4 loss at San Francisco on Thursday.

Duke, who allowed three runs and struck out three in six innings, is 2-0 with a 3.92 ERA in three starts since a four-game losing streak.

“I felt like I threw the ball as well as I have all year,” Duke said. “There were just a couple of instances that got me in trouble.”

Duke has not registered a decision in two career starts against St. Louis, posting a 3.38 ERA in eight innings. He faced the Cardinals on April 26 and allowed three runs and walked five in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Busch Stadium.

Pittsburgh third baseman Joe Randa went 1-for-4 on Tuesday in his return from the DL. Randa had been sidelined since May 1 with a bruised right foot.

The Cardinals have won five straight games against the Pirates and 30 of the last 40 since the start of 2004, including 15 of 20 on the road.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Ponson KC vs. Z. Duke CWS
4-5 Record 10-15
6.25 ERA 4.47
48 K 117
36 BB 68
1.69 WHIP 1.50