Cardinals-Astros preview

HOUSTON -- While two games won't be enough for either the St. Louis Cardinals or Houston Astros to establish the momentum that has eluded both over the past month, their brief interleague series at Minute Maid Park could at least serve as a potential ignition.

The Cardinals (62-56) claimed the final two games of their four-game set with the Cubs in Chicago over the weekend, closing that series where they began it relative to their position in the National League Central -- 12 games back of the Cubs. St. Louis last won three consecutive games July 27-29 (the finale against the New York Mets and the first two games of its series in Miami) and is 16-14 since the All-Star Game break.

Left-hander Jaime Garcia (9-8, 3.93 ERA) will get the start for St. Louis on Tuesday night. He lost to the Astros on June 14 at Busch Stadium, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 setback. The Cardinals lost 4-1 the following day as Houston completed the sweep.

Garcia is 2-6 with a 6.15 ERA in his career against the Astros. His 10 starts against Houston are his most against an opponent outside the NL Central.

St. Louis will be without left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist, who departed in the eighth inning on Sunday with arm soreness. Siegrist has been plagued with a dead arm since returning from the disabled list last month and was removed after shaking his arm while on the mound Sunday in Chicago.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is hopeful that Siegrist can rebound over the next week, with St. Louis facing three scheduled off-days during that stretch.

Siegrist led the majors with 81 appearances last season, finishing 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He is 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 50 appearances this season.

"It wasn't worth (continuing) at that point," Siegrist said to "I was shaking my arm out a little bit, really trying to get it going. It's been hard coming back from being on the DL and trying to get my arm back in shape. I kind of went through a little dead arm-type feeling, and it's been hit or miss."

The Astros (61-57) are dealing with bullpen issues as well. Closer Ken Giles spent the weekend on the paternity list while right-hander Luke Gregerson returned from the 15-day disabled list (left oblique) and allowed a solo home run in the seventh inning of a 9-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Houston also relied on rookie right-handers James Hoyt and Jandel Gustave in the setback.

"We'll continue to grind through it," Astros manager A.J. Hinch told "We'll have our full bullpen back by Tuesday. That'll be a nice return."

Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (7-11, 4.56 ERA) will make his second career start against the Cardinals. He is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA in two prior appearances (one start).

The Astros are 13-16 since the All-Star break with three three-game losing skids during that stretch. They dropped the final two games of their series in Toronto and are in the midst of 14 road games during a 16-game stretch.