St. Louis (20-14) at Pittsburgh (14-19)

Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu May 14, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals were hoping to pad their lead atop the NL Central with a trip to visit the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

The Cardinals look to avoid being swept for the first time this season Thursday night when they wrap up their three-game series against the Pirates.

St. Louis (20-14) has scored the second-most runs in the NL (175), but its offense has been virtually nonexistent in Pittsburgh (14-19).

After dropping Tuesday’s series opener 7-1, the Cardinals were limited to six hits in Wednesday’s 5-2 defeat to fall into a first-place tie with Milwaukee and Cincinnati in the division.

Albert Pujols(notes) had an RBI single in the ninth inning Wednesday and has driven in two runs in the last two games for St. Louis, which has not been swept in a series since losing three in a row at Pittsburgh from Sept. 12-14.

Pujols will likely need to shoulder even more of the offensive load with right fielder Ryan Ludwick(notes) being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring prior to Wednesday’s loss.

Ludwick, who was hitting .274 with eight homers and 26 RBIs, joins starting center fielder Rick Ankiel(notes) (right shoulder injury) on the DL.

“That’s why you’ve got to have pitching and defense, because sometimes they can shut your offense down,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the team’s official Web site. “You’re not going to score a bunch of runs every day.”

While St. Louis is in a bit of a funk, the Pirates have won two in a row following an eight-game skid.

“We were about as low as can be two days ago and now we’re getting some confidence back,” Pittsburgh first baseman Adam LaRoche(notes) said.

Although the Pirates appear to be turning things around, LaRoche had a bit of bad luck Wednesday, becoming the first player to have a home run taken away by video replay.

The reversal of the home run call didn’t matter that much, though, as Pittsburgh won successive games for the first time since April 25-26 in San Diego. The Pirates haven’t swept a series since winning three in a row over Florida from April 20-22.

Jeff Karstens(notes) (1-1, 5.19 ERA) looks to lead Pittsburgh to the sweep as he makes his first career appearance against the Cardinals in Thursday’s finale.

Karstens gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings of a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets on Friday, but wasn’t a factor in the decision. The right-hander did not issue a walk after allowing 13 in 20 innings over his first four starts.

“It was encouraging,” Karstens told the Pirates’ official Web site. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. It’s just one start. It’s a matter of repeating what I did tonight.”

Pittsburgh has won just one of Karstens’ five starts this year.

The Cardinals counter with Mitchell Boggs(notes) (1-0, 3.50), who makes his second straight start against the Pirates.

Last Wednesday in St. Louis, Boggs gave up two runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings of the Cardinals’ 4-2 win over Pittsburgh. He threw more balls (43) than strikes (42) in walking five.

“It’s one of those things I’ve got to learn from,” Boggs said. “The next time out I’ve got to make some adjustments.”

The right-hander is taking the place of injured Chris Carpenter(notes) in the Cardinals’ rotation, and St. Louis has won all three of Boggs’ starts this season.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Boggs Bos vs. J. Karstens Pit
2-3 Record 4-6
4.19 ERA 5.42
46 K 52
33 BB 45
1.79 WHIP 1.48


Thursday, May 14