Minnesota (38-38) at St. Louis (41-35)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 87° F
  • Game info: 2:15 pm EDT Sun Jun 28, 2009
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There are times when Joel Pineiro(notes) requires very few runs to work with, but he would certainly welcome another stellar game at the plate from Albert Pujols(notes).

After getting a much-needed boost from Pujols, the Cardinals send Pineiro to the mound Sunday in the decisive contest of a three-game home against the Minnesota Twins.

Pineiro (6-8, 3.40 ERA) is receiving just 3.9 runs of support per nine innings - an average which includes the 11 he got in an April 15 win over Arizona. The veteran right-hander, though, needed little help Tuesday night, pitching a career-best two-hitter to end a five-start losing streak in St. Louis’ 3-0 win over the New York Mets.

His previous win also was a shutout - a three-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on May 19. Pineiro won his first four starts this season, but lost eight of his next nine.

“It’s something you feel when you go out there. When you see something is working, you stay with it,” Pineiro said. “Obviously, they know you are going to throw the sinker. But if I keep it down, they can’t hit it. It makes my curveball and slider better.”

Pineiro, who is 2-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 13 starts and one relief appearance versus the Twins, has gotten three runs or fewer to work with in each of his last 11 starts.

St. Louis (41-35) had totaled just three runs during a three-game losing streak, but got a pair of two-run homers from Pujols in a 5-3 win over Minnesota (38-38) on Saturday. The effort atoned for Pujols’ crucial ninth-inning strikeout in a two-run loss the previous night.

“He’s great for the game. A tremendous hitter, a tremendous athlete, everything I’ve heard he’s a tremendous player,” said Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey(notes), who yielded both home runs to Pujols.

It was the two-time NL MVP’s 29th career multihomer game, his sixth this season and second in six days. He leads the majors with 28 homers and 74 RBIs.

Pujols is 8 for 16 with six RBIs versus the Twins but has never faced Francisco Liriano(notes) (3-8, 5.88), set to take his turn in Minnesota’s rotation.

Liriano walked five against Milwaukee on Tuesday night, but got credit for the Twins’ 7-3 victory. He allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings - an improvement from his previous six starts, in which he went 0-4 with a 6.97 ERA.

The left-hander hadn’t won since May 9, against Seattle.

This will be Liriano’s first appearance against the Cardinals. His batterymate will likely be Joe Mauer(notes), who got a break from catching duties Saturday. Mauer, batting .394 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs in 51 games, didn’t start but grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.

Mauer is 11 for 15 (.733) with a triple and four doubles against Pineiro.

Mike Redmond(notes) filled in for Mauer behind the plate Saturday and went 0 for 3 as the Twins fell to 11-6 in interleague play. Minnesota had won seven of its previous 10 on the road overall.

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Starting Pitchers

F. Liriano Pit vs. J. Pineiro LAA
5-13 Record 15-12
5.80 ERA 3.49
122 K 105
65 BB 27
1.55 WHIP 1.14


Sunday, Jun 28