The Kansas City Royals suffered their fourth straight defeat in part because they struggled again on the mound. Based on his recent results, Gil Meche(notes) appears to be a good candidate to halt the skid.
Meche looks to extend the longest scoreless innings streak in the majors and win his third straight start when he takes on Albert Pujols(notes) and the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a three-game interleague series Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
After giving up at least 10 runs in each of three straight losses, Kansas City (29-38) settled down a little against St. Louis on Saturday. Despite a solid eight innings from Brian Bannister(notes), however, the Royals’ bullpen turned a close game into another lopsided defeat as Kansas City fell 7-1.
That was the fourth straight defeat for the Royals since Meche (4-5, 3.31 ERA) last took the mound Tuesday. He pitched a four-hit shutout to beat Arizona 5-0 that day, extending his scoreless innings streak to 16, currently the longest streak in the majors.
He needed a career-high 132 pitches for his first complete game since Sept. 24, 2007, and his first shutout since Sept. 12, 2004.
Meche, who threw seven scoreless innings and matched a career high with 11 strikeouts to beat Cleveland in his previous start, is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis. Pujols is 1 for 4 with two walks and a strikeout against him.
Pujols has driven in two runs in each of the first two games of this series. He’s gone 10 for 30 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs scored in interleague play to help St. Louis (38-31) to a 7-4 record against AL opponents, including 5-1 against Kansas City.
“Albert hits good pitches hard and bad pitches even harder,” Bannister said of Pujols, hitting .381 with 12 homers in 41 career games against the Royals. “When he gets in the batter’s box, you start praying. If you don’t pray, you think about starting.”
The Cardinals, winners of seven of 10 since a season-high five-game losing streak, will try to complete their third three-game sweep in Kansas City in six years with Adam Wainwright(notes) (7-4, 3.33) on the mound.
Wainwright has lasted at least seven innings in six of his last seven outings, delivering five quality starts in that stretch. He held Detroit to one run and six hits in seven innings of an 11-2 victory Tuesday.
“I was down in the zone a lot more tonight,” Wainwright told the Cardinals’ official Web site after throwing 100 pitches, his lowest total since May 5. “I was throwing most of my pitches for strikes and trusting my defense. When you’re not afraid of contact, you’re going to get a lot of quick outs.”