St. Louis (51-44) at Houston (47-46)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Jul 21, 2009
  • TV: FSMW, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Astros are poised to remain contenders in the crowded NL Central. Wandy Rodriguez(notes) appears willing to do his part to help.

Looking for his fifth straight winning decision, Rodriguez will try to help the Astros move closer to the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals when the clubs continue a three-game series on Tuesday night.

Carlos Lee’s(notes) three-run homer in the fourth inning lifted Houston (47-46) to a 3-2 comeback victory in Monday’s opener at Minute Maid Park.

“When we get a victory over the first-place team in our division it feels good,” Astros’ shortstop Miguel Tejada(notes) said. “We all have confidence … and we know we can get it.”

The Astros, who are 29-18 since losing a season-high seven in a row from May 21-27, are three games behind the Cardinals (51-44), who have dropped four in a row at Houston dating to last season.

“(The Cardinals) are a pretty good club and have been playing pretty consistent all year, but we think we’re a pretty good team and have been playing consistent of late,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper told the team’s official Web site. “The key is for us to win the series.”

Lee is batting .388 (19 for 49) in his last 13 games, and is 5 for 12 with two homers and four RBIs in four games versus the Cardinals this season.

After a solid effort from starter Brian Moehler(notes), Houston hopes Rodriguez (9-6, 2.81 ERA) can continue his most dominant stretch of 2009.

Looking to match a career high for wins, Rodriguez has not allowed a run in 17 straight innings over his last three starts.

The left-hander gave up five hits and struck out six in six innings of a 3-0 win on Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rodriguez, who’s given up one run and struck out 22 in 22 innings over his last three outings, is 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts since losing at Texas on June 16.

“He’s been great,” first baseman Lance Berkman(notes) said. “We have to have somebody besides Roy (Oswalt) that can have a shutdown-type game. Not that the other guys can’t, but Wandy’s been doing it pretty consistently now.”

Rodriguez surrendered three runs in six innings of a 3-0 loss at St. Louis on April 12, and dropped to 2-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts versus the Cardinals.

St. Louis All-Star Albert Pujols(notes) went 1 for 3 on Monday, is and 3 for 20 (.150) versus Rodriguez. The two-time NL MVP continues to lead the majors with 34 homers and 90 RBIs.

Yadier Molina(notes) drove in both runs and Mark DeRosa(notes) got his first two hits in six games since being traded from Cleveland last month for the Cardinals, who have lost three of their last four on the road.

Todd Wellemeyer(notes) (7-7, 5.56) will make his first start in almost two weeks for St. Louis. The right-hander, who’s been plagued by inconsistency this season, allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings, but didn’t factor in a 5-4 loss at Milwaukee on July 8.

Facing Houston for the first time this season, Wellemeyer is 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts versus the Astros.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Wellemeyer ChC vs. W. Rodríguez Tex
7-10 Record 14-12
5.89 ERA 3.02
78 K 193
57 BB 63
1.77 WHIP 1.24

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Jul 21