St. Louis (28-34) at Kansas City (25-41)

Cloudy Currently: Kansas City, MO
Temp: 40° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Thu Jun 14, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kip Wells has led the majors in losses before. So have the Kansas City Royals.

Wells looks to avoid yet another loss, and another poor appearance against the Royals as he takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in the decisive game of their series Thursday night.

Wells (2-10, 6.33 ERA) currently leads the majors in losses, and held the single-season mark with 18 in 1995.

Kansas City (25-41), meanwhile, led the majors with 106 losses that year, and has one fewer loss than Texas, which leads the league with 42.

Wells is 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in three starts since getting his second win of 2007, and will now face a Royals team he has struggled against. He is 3-2 with an 8.75 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance against Kansas City.

On Friday night, the right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits while striking out six in five innings as St. Louis (28-34) lost 10-6 to the Los Angeles Angels.

Wells certainly hasn’t pitched well, but he hasn’t gotten much run support either. The Cardinals are averaging 2.9 runs with Wells on the mound.

St. Louis beat Kansas City 7-3 on Wednesday night after losing the series opener 8-1 the previous day.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols continued his hot hitting against the Royals, gong 2-for-4 with three RBIs Wednesday. At Kansas City, the star first baseman from nearby Independence, Mo., is batting .398 with seven home runs, seven doubles and 23 RBIs in 83 at-bats.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the major leagues,” pitcher Odalis Perez told the Royals’ official Web site. “Even if you try to challenge him or put the ball where you want to, it’s tough.”

Pujols is 4-for-8 with three home runs against Scott Elarton (2-2, 7.34 ERA), who will get the ball for the Royals. The right-hander has given up 10 home runs in 30 2-3 innings.

Elarton earned a win despite struggling in his last start, allowing four runs and six hits—including three homers—in five innings as Kansas City beat Philadelphia 8-4 on Friday night. He is 4-3 with a 4.30 ERA in six starts and eight relief appearances against St. Louis.

The Royals’ weak lineup may struggle to give Elarton any offense, especially with designated hitter Mike Sweeney experiencing tightness in his lower back. He was taken out of Wednesday’s game after he stumbled and fell while running to first on a routine groundout in the bottom of the fourth.

“I think it happened before (he fell),” Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. “He had actually had a back spasm after his swing when he was leaving the box.”

Emil Brown, batting .217, replaced Sweeney in the lineup.

Kansas City second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was out of the lineup with a swollen knee, but said he did not think the injury was serious. His status for Thursday’s game is uncertain.

Esteban German replaced Grudzielanek and went 2-for-4. He is 5-for-9 in this series after going 2-for-32 (.063) his previous nine games.

A bright spot for the Royals on offense Wednesday was rookie third baseman Alex Gordon, who hit a three-run homer. He has hit below .200 all season, but has gone 5-for-10 with six RBIs in his last three games to raise his average from .187 to .199.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Wells SD vs. S. Elarton Phi
7-17 Record 2-4
5.70 ERA 10.46
122 K 13
78 BB 21
1.62 WHIP 2.00

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jun 14