Cubs-Cardinals Preview

Chris Carpenter finds himself in the midst of his longest home

winless streak since debuting with the St. Louis Cardinals in

2004.

Carlos Zambrano, meanwhile, hasn’t lost in St. Louis since

2003.

While Carpenter looks to end his slide, Zambrano will try to

continue his run and slow down red-hot Albert Pujols as the

Cardinals try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs

on Sunday.

Pujols, who recently went a career-worst 105 at-bats without

going deep, hit his 11th and 12th home runs Saturday – including

the game-winner with two outs in the 12th inning to give St. Louis

(35-25) a 5-4 win over Chicago.

“You can do a lot of good things in two months and you can

struggle in two months,” Pujols said. “Hopefully, it’s my time

now.”

Pujols’ ninth career walk-off home run extended the Cubs’ losing

streak to a season-worst five games. He also went deep during

Friday’s series-opening 6-1 win and now has 50 home runs against

Chicago – his highest total against any team.

“I’m not in the habit of walking people with two out and nobody

on,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I understand how good this guy

is, so we’ll have to rethink that a little bit.”

Carpenter (1-5, 4.52 ERA), who despite posting a solid 3.30 ERA

has yet to record a home win in five tries this season – his

longest such stretch during his tenure with the Cardinals – will

look to add to the Cubs’ woes.

The right-hander earned his only victory of the season during a

6-4 win May 10 at Wrigley Field despite allowing a career-worst 13

hits. He has since gone 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA.

Carpenter labored over five innings of Tuesday’s 4-3 win over

San Francisco, allowing two runs and seven hits over five innings

with a season-best eight strikeouts.

Carpenter had surrendered a total of two runs over five home

outings spanning 39 innings against Chicago (23-33) prior to

compiling a 5.84 ERA and losing both starts last year.

In contrast, Zambrano (5-2, 4.23) has gone 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA

over his last 11 starts in St. Louis – never allowing more than two

runs – since losing 2-0 there May 19, 2003, despite allowing one

unearned run.

The right-hander is coming off one of his strongest efforts of

the season, limiting Houston to one run and seven hits over eight

innings of Tuesday’s 7-3 loss.

While Zambrano has dominated the Cardinals on the mound at Busch

Stadium, he also owns a career .308 average against them and is 8

for 16 off Carpenter.

Carpenter won’t have to worry about facing injured outfielders

Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd, who are batting a combined .338

against him, but Aramis Ramirez could return to the lineup

Sunday.

Ramirez, 23 for 64 against Carpenter, received seven stitches in

his left upper lip after being hit in the face by a ball Wednesday

and has not played since. Ramirez’s 26-game hitting streak against

the Cardinals is the longest since 1946.

Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot, who spent the first six-plus

seasons of his career with the Cubs, went 1 for 5 Saturday to

extend his hitting streak to 18 games – the longest active run in

the majors. He is batting .342 over that span.

Lance Berkman, who had been mired in a 3-for-27 slump over his

previous 11 home games prior to this series, is 3 for 9 with a home

run and four RBIs over the weekend. Berkman, however, is 11 for 71

(.155) against Zambrano.