Former NL Central rivals St. Louis and Houston will meet once again, as the Cardinals visit Minute Maid Park on Tuesday to open a two- game Interleague series with the Astros.
St. Louis is looking to get back on track after suffering a three-game home sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers over the weekend. The Cardinals are coming off Sunday's 2-1 loss, in which they were unable to get anything going after a three-hour rain delay. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was strong through six innings but gave up a pair of runs in the seventh, and that was all the cushion Texas would need.
While the Cardinals currently lead the NL Central, the Astros sit at the bottom of their new digs, the AL West.
However, Houston has righted the ship of late, notching wins in seven of its last 11 games. However, the Astros are coming off Sunday's 14-6 setback to the Cubs in the rubber match of a three-game series. Chicago's Ryan Sweeney drove in six runs to match the Astros' scoring output for the game. Starter Jordan Lyles was tagged for eight runs (five earned) on 10 hits in five innings of work.
With Monday's off day, Astros manager Bo Porter bumped Lucas Harrell up one day to start Tuesday's game, while lefty Erik Bedard will start on Wednesday.
Harrell has posted a 1.73 ERA with 17 strikeouts in four June starts. Overall, he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts after struggling early in the season.
"I'm back to getting my mechanics like they were last year," Harrell said. "I was inconsistent early in the year, but now I haven't been walking anybody. I was just battling today, trying to keep the team in it. It was one of those days you had to bear down and grit it."
St. Louis will counter with veteran Jake Westbrook, who tossed seven shutout innings against the Cubs on Wednesday. He allowed only two hits while inducing 15 groundball outs. It was Westbrook's second outing since coming off the disabled list, and the 35-year-old certainly appeared more comfortable on the mound.
"Even when they got to two strikes and got into full counts, fastball counts, you could see that they were still having trouble doing much with it because it had so much downward movement," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's just like anybody else, when they feel good, they find that rhythm, they find that release point, and he had it."
The Cardinals have won 21 of the last 30 meetings in the head-to-head series.