Pittsburgh (19-25) at St. Louis (17-25)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 43° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Wed May 23, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kip Wells led the majors in losses as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates two seasons ago. He’s on pace to claim that dubious distinction again, this time with the St. Louis Cardinals.

After ending their own skid, the Cardinals hope Wells can snap a personal seven-game losing streak when they face the Pirates on Wednesday night in the middle game of their series.

Wells (1-8, 6.75 ERA) signed with St. Louis (17-25) in the offseason after playing with Pittsburgh (19-25) from 2002-2006, getting traded to Texas in his last season there. With the Pirates in 2005, he led all major league pitchers with 18 losses.

Even then, though, Wells never lost seven straight starts. His career-worst skid has him leading the majors in losses again.

Wells gave up five runs, six hits and a season-high six walks in five innings of a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. It was the fifth consecutive start in which he walked at least three batters.

The right-hander’s only career start against Pittsburgh was as a member of the Chicago White Sox six years ago. He gave up an unearned run and four hits in 8 1-3 innings to earn a win as the White Sox beat the Pirates 4-1 on July 7, 2001.

The defending champion Cardinals find themselves fifth in the NL Central, only a game ahead of Cincinnati. St. Louis was tied for last place before ending a five-game losing streak with a 9-4 win over Pittsburgh in the series opener Tuesday night.

Shortstop David Eckstein returned to the Cardinals’ leadoff spot Tuesday, going 3-for-5 after spending three weeks at the bottom of the order overcoming an early-season slump.

Eckstein, the World Series MVP last fall, was batting .226 when manager Tony La Russa dropped him to eighth in the order at the start of the month. He bottomed out at .207 on May 14, but is now hitting .268.

“His average has definitely climbed and he feels good about his swing,” La Russa said. “I’m happy to get him back there.”

La Russa said Eckstein will be the table-setter again Wednesday against Pittsburgh’s Ian Snell (4-2, 2.76), who has been outstanding in his second full season as starter.

Snell gave up four runs and seven hits while striking out seven in 5 2-3 innings to earn the win as Pittsburgh beat Arizona 11-5 on Friday night. The right-hander allowed more than two earned runs only once in his first eight starts.

Snell is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals this season, and 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in five starts and a relief appearance against them for his career.

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols has had great success against Snell, though, batting .545 (6-for-11) with four home runs and a double against him.

Pittsburgh has lost three straight and five of seven. The Pirates went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts with the bases loaded Tuesday, and left 11 total runners on base.

“That’s a lot of opportunities that got away,” Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. “We couldn’t get the big hit.”

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Starting Pitchers

I. Snell LAD vs. K. Wells SD
9-12 Record 7-17
3.76 ERA 5.70
177 K 122
68 BB 78
1.33 WHIP 1.62

Scoreboard

Wednesday, May 23