A 10-game road trip against sub-.500 opponents has been anything but favorable for the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis (69-59) began this trip 3 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central but dropped to five back after going 2-5 at Pittsburgh and Washington - both last-place teams - to open the stretch.
The Cardinals are 11-13 in August because they have lost series to Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington and Houston (59-71), all teams with losing records. St. Louis is 5-7 against the Astros this season but won two of three at Minute Maid Park in July.
The Cardinals could use a solid effort from their starters after Kyle Lohse(notes) allowed eight runs in a 14-5 loss to Washington on Saturday, and Wainwright gave up four runs in five innings Sunday.
“Our goal is to win the series,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “Win the first game of the series, you’re in charge.”
Westbrook (1-2, 4.06 ERA) can do that while trying to avoid losing his third straight start after he allowed four runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts versus Houston. He gave up two runs and struck out seven in six innings but did not factor in the decision of a 9-4 loss in his Cardinals’ debut Aug. 2.
Matt Holliday(notes) is batting .182 against the Astros this season but extended his hitting streak to 11 games after going 2 for 4 on Sunday. Slugger Albert Pujols(notes) has hit .447 with four home runs and 14 RBIs versus Houston this season.
Pujols and Holliday are a combined 7 for 11 against scheduled starter J.A, Happ (4-2, 3.45), who allowed seven runs, six hits and three walks in one-plus inning of an 8-4 loss at St. Louis on Aug. 4.
“It was disappointing, and there’s no excuse for that really. I just got behind the guys and got myself into some trouble there.” Happ told the Astros’ official website.
Though the left-hander is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts versus St. Louis, he is 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last four since losing to the Cardinals. Happ allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Rookie third baseman Chris Johnson(notes) is 6 for 20 with a homer and seven RBIs in six games against the Cardinals. However, Johnson went 0 for 8 in the final two games at New York this weekend. His average has dropped from .365 to .329 after going 11 for 53 with 17 strikeouts in his last 13 games.
The Astros, who concluded a 6-4 road trip with a 5-1 loss to the Mets on Sunday, have won six of eight.