San Francisco (6-11) at St. Louis (12-5)

Partly Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sat Apr 19, 2008
  • TV: CSBA, FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With a red-hot Albert Pujols leading the way, the St. Louis Cardinals have jumped out to a fast start.

The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, have a sputtering offense, and are trying to avoid their worst start in 18 years.

Pujols and the Cardinals look to continue their outstanding starts to the season as they play the middle game of their three-game set against the slumping Giants on Saturday.

St. Louis (12-5) routed San Francisco 11-1 in Friday’s series opener to improve to 8-2 at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals set new season bests for runs scored and extra-base hits (6) while tying their high of 13 hits set in an 8-2 win at San Francisco on April 11.

St. Louis, which won just seven of its first 17 games a year ago, is off to its best start since opening 14-5 in 2005.

Pujols hit a three-run homer on Friday, and is batting .385 (15-for-39) with four home runs and 13 RBIs during a 10-game hit streak.

“That’s part of his amazingness, just how locked in he is every game he plays,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Pujols has two home runs and eight RBIs in five games against the Giants this season, and is batting .411 (23-for-56) with four homers and 17 RBIs in 15 games versus them since 2006.

It was San Francisco’s fifth loss in seven games.

The Giants (6-11) have been outscored 23-4 during their three-game losing streak, batting only .163 (15-for-92) in those contests.

San Francisco is tied with San Diego for the fewest runs scored in the majors (50), and has scored two or fewer runs in nine of its 17 games. On Friday, the Giants fell to just 1-6 on the road, and have been outscored 45-13 in those contests.

San Francisco was 9-8 after 17 games last season, and is off to its worst start since going 5-12 in 1983. The Giants have not opened a season with 12 losses in their first 18 games since 1990.

San Francisco hopes Tim Lincecum (2-0, 2.25 ERA) can get the team back in the win column, as the Giants have won all three of his starts.

Lincecum gave up two runs, six hits and struck out 11 in six innings of Sunday’s 7-4 win over St. Louis. It marked the third time in 26 career starts that the 23-year-old right-hander has reached double digits in strikeouts.

He has won his first two career starts against the Cardinals, allowing five runs and striking out 16 in 12 innings.

Joel Pineiro (0-1, 14.73) opposed Lincecum last weekend, and will be on the mound again on Saturday.

Pineiro began the year on the disabled list due to soreness in his pitching shoulder and had a stellar rehab minor league start, but against the Giants on Sunday, he gave up six runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss.

“I felt like I was ready to go,” Pineiro told the team’s official Web site. “I’m not going to find that excuse and say I pitched like this because I should have had one more (rehabilitation) start. No. I told them I was ready to go.”

The right-hander looks to get back on track at Busch Stadium, where he went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts last season.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Lincecum SF vs. J. Pineiro LAA
18-5 Record 7-7
2.62 ERA 5.15
265 K 81
84 BB 35
1.17 WHIP 1.45

Scoreboard

Saturday, Apr 19