With Chris Carpenter out again for an extended period, the St. Louis Cardinals have needed the remainder of their rotation to step up early in the season. Joel Pineiro has done that despite not being completely happy with his results the last time he took the mound.
Still, Pineiro looks to win his third consecutive start on Wednesday night as the Cardinals continue their three-game set with the New York Mets, who will try to help John Maine notch his first victory.
Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner who has missed almost all of the last two seasons with arm woes, now is recovering from a strained left ribcage that could keep him out until the beginning of July. With their presumed ace out, St. Louis must get more consistency from the rest of its staff.
Pineiro (2-0, 5.40 ERA) pitched solidly at home to beat Houston on April 10, but struggled on the road in a 12-7 win over Arizona last Wednesday. The right-hander yielded five runs and nine hits in five innings, and said he had trouble commanding his sinker.
“It was a struggle from the first pitch to the last pitch,” Pineiro said. “I couldn’t put the ball wherever I wanted to most of the time.”
He limited the Mets (6-7) to three hits in eight innings en route to a 3-0 road win the first time he faced them in 2007. In two starts last year, though, he failed to record a decision while giving up nine runs and 21 hits in nine total innings.
Maine (0-1, 7.20) hasn’t pitched well so far in 2009, and his offense hasn’t been giving him much to work with.
The right-hander, who has won 25 games over the last two seasons, was tagged for six runs and seven hits with three walks over five innings Thursday in a 6-5 loss to San Diego.
“He was just behind hitters a lot,” catcher Ramon Castro told the Mets’ official Web site. “When you get behind the hitters, that’s what happens.”
Maine, who failed to get a decision in his season debut against Florida on April 10, has received just four runs of support so far. That’s not been the case when he faces St. Louis - in three career starts, Maine is 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA and 16 runs of support.
After splitting a six-game road trip, St. Louis (9-5) extended its home winning streak to five by rallying for a 6-4 victory on Wednesday. Down 4-0 entering their half of the fifth, the Cardinals got a two-run double from Albert Pujols before Khalil Greene and Joe Thurston drew bases-loaded walks.
Ankiel had gone 1-for-18 on the swing, but his second three-game hit this year raised his average 48 points to .227.
“We had a four-run lead and we didn’t hold on to it,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We have enough offense. We should add a run here or there and we didn’t do that.”
Castillo has two-hit games in each of his last four starts, and his batting .400 so far. The second baseman is hitting .250 (3-for-12) in his career versus Pineiro.