Cincinnati (9-10) at St. Louis (8-10)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 51° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Tue Apr 24, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A middle of the order consisting of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds should be productive for the St. Louis Cardinals. Up until their last game, that had not been the case this season.

The Cardinals hope to continue their newfound offense Tuesday night as they open a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium.

With their top three run producers struggling, the Cardinals (8-10) scored only 50 runs in their first 17 games. Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds started slowly, batting around .200 or just under while combining for 18 RBIs, but all three homered and made big contributions in a 12-9, 10-inning victory Sunday over the Chicago Cubs.

Pujols hit a three-run home run in the 10th, Rolen had a career-best five hits and Edmonds added two RBIs as St. Louis pounded out a season-high 17 hits on a windy day at Wrigley Field.

A 1-for-21 skid dropped Pujols average to .203 before his three-hit performance Sunday increased it to .229.

“Hopefully, this is the game that triggers everything. Hopefully, the middle of the lineup will be producing more,” Pujols said. “We don’t want to force it to happen.”

Rolen raised his batting average 68 points in one day from .200 to .268. He had two RBIs in his previous seven games before driving in three Sunday.

“I’ll take it. It’s been a long while,” Rolen said. “I feel like all of a sudden I’m having a decent year. … I felt more comfortable today. I controlled my at-bats a little better. It was a good day to hit.”

Tuesday begins a stretch where the Cardinals play 12 of their next 15 games at home, where they have lost six of seven, scoring two runs or fewer six times.

Kip Wells (1-3, 3.12 ERA) hopes for some more run support when he makes his fifth start of the season for St. Louis. The right-hander has pitched much better than his record indicates, allowing three earned runs or fewer three times while lasting at least six innings in all four starts.

Wells had his worst start of the season Thursday in a 6-2 loss at San Francisco, yielding four earned runs and six hits in six innings. He has lost three straight decisions against the Reds and is 2-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 17 career starts against them.

This is the opener of a 10-day, 11-game road trip for Cincinnati (9-10), which has lost two straight and four of five to fall below .500 for the first time this season.

“It’s important to win every day,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said on the team’s official Web site. “This (NL Central) division is so even. It’s the teams that can avoid long losing streaks that can stay in it, the teams that don’t panic. We have to be resilient.”

Cincinnati was limited to six runs and hit .161 (15-for-93) in a three-game series over the weekend against Philadelphia that concluded with a 9-3 loss Sunday.

“We couldn’t get anything going,” Narron said. “We’ve got to put the ball in play a little better. Right now, as a team, we’re just not hitting.”

Aaron Harang (2-0, 4.37) had a strong outing Wednesday against Houston but did not receive a decision. The right-hander allowed one run and three hits in six innings while walking two and striking out eight as the Reds suffered a 7-2 loss, their first in Harang’s four starts.

Harang is 3-6 with a 4.78 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cardinals. He is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts at new Busch Stadium.

Pujols is batting .407 (11-for-27) against Harang, but Rolen and Edmonds are a combined 8-for-48 (.167).

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Starting Pitchers

A. Harang Phi vs. K. Wells LAA
16-6 Record 7-17
3.73 ERA 5.70
218 K 122
52 BB 78
1.14 WHIP 1.62


Tuesday, Apr 24