Cardinals-Astros Preview

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman is set to return to

the lineup after receiving a cortisone injection in his left wrist.

That appears to be bad timing for the Houston Astros.

Berkman turned in a huge series in his last trip to Houston, and

he’ll be back at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night in the opener of

a three-game set.

Manager Tony La Russa said Berkman got the injection to address

general soreness from an injury sustained making a diving catch May

18. The play, which came during a 5-1 win over the Astros, forced

the outfielder to miss three games.

He’s since homered once in his last 12 contests after hitting 11

home runs in his first 39.

“It’s been pretty sore since I’ve been back,” Berkman told the

Cardinals’ official website. “It got to the point where I could

swing, it just never got better.”

He expects to be back in action after sitting out Sunday’s game

against Chicago.

Berkman is a Houston native who spent the first 11-plus years of

his career with the Astros (23-37). He helped St. Louis (36-25)

take two of three April 26-28 in his first series as a visitor at

Minute Maid Park, going 8 for 14 and capping the performance with a

two-homer, five-RBI effort in an 11-7 victory in the finale.

The emotions still run high for Berkman.

“I can’t imagine that I’ll ever come into this building and not

think about … years of great memories and things like that and

great teams,” he said after that series. “One series doesn’t put

that to bed. It will always be a special place for me to come back

in here.”

Albert Pujols has gone 4 for 26 with no homers over his last

eight games against Houston, but he’s coming off a special series.

The slugger became the 11th player to hit game-ending homers in

consecutive contests to cap the Cardinals’ weekend home sweep of

the Cubs.

Pujols went 6 for 11 with four homers and seven RBIs in the

three-game set. He homered with two outs in the 12th inning of a

5-4 victory Saturday and led off the 10th with a home run in a 3-2

victory Sunday.

Berkman and Pujols have differing histories against Brett Myers

(2-4, 4.82 ERA), who will start Tuesday. Pujols has gone 15 for 41

with three homers against the right-hander while Berkman is 3 for

18.

Myers allowed one run over six innings of a 3-1 victory over the

Cubs on Wednesday. He had gone 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA over his

previous six outings.

Myers is 6-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 15 starts against St. Louis and

2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in four with Houston.

He’ll be opposed by an improving Jake Westbrook (5-3, 5.15), who

tries again for a fourth straight win. Westbrook went 3-0 with a

1.80 ERA in his final three outings in May before giving up three

runs over 5 2-3 innings of a 7-5, 11-inning loss to San Francisco

on Wednesday.

The right-hander has gone 0-2 with a 4.67 ERA in three career

starts versus Houston. Astros slugger Carlos Lee is 14 for 34

against him.

Houston lost the final three games of its road trip to close

last week after winning the first four. The Astros have dropped

four straight to St. Louis.