Final

Series: Game 1 of 4

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 9/20)

Game 1: Thursday, September 20
Houston18Final
St. Louis1
Game 2: Friday, September 21
Houston6Final
St. Louis3
Game 3: Saturday, September 22
Houston4Final
St. Louis7
Game 4: Sunday, September 23
Houston3Final
St. Louis4

Astros 18

(67-86, 27-48 away)

Cardinals 1

(71-81, 41-37 home)

    8:10 PM ET, September 20, 2007

    Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 020201562 18 23 2
    STL 000000010 1 8 3

    W: W. Rodriguez (9-13)

    L: B. Looper (12-11)

    Astros-Cardinals Preview

    STATS LLC

    Wandy Rodriguez looks to earn his first career victory against the St. Louis Cardinals when he takes the mound for the Houston Astros in the opener of a four-set Thursday night.

    Rodriguez (8-13, 4.83 ERA) has been terrible in his career against the Cardinals, going 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA in four starts and a relief appearance against them.

    The left-hander is 1-2 with a 7.99 ERA in his last five starts overall, allowing 28 hits and 17 walks in 23 2-3 innings. He is also 2-10 with a 7.31 ERA in 14 starts on the road this season.

    Rodriguez was at home in his last start, but gave up five runs, five hits and three walks in three innings as Houston (66-86) beat Pittsburgh 9-7 on Saturday night.

    He won't have to face St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who was a late scratch Tuesday in St. Louis' 7-4, 14-inning loss to Philadelphia, although he appeared as a pinch-hitter. Pujols also did not see action in the Cardinals' 2-1, 10-inning win on Wednesday, and may be out of the lineup for a while.

    "He's kind of doubtful for the weekend, I was told," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He can't run."

    Pujols remains five RBIs shy of reaching 100 for the seventh straight season.

    St. Louis (71-80) won for only the second time in its last 14 games on Wednesday as Yadier Molina singled in the winning run in the 10th.

    The Cardinals will start Braden Looper (12-10, 4.55), who has been outstanding in three starts against Houston this season, going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA. His other 30 appearances against the Astros were all in relief, and he is 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA lifetime against them.

    Looper has given up two runs or less in six of his last seven starts, and is 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 14 starts at home.

    In his last outing, the right-hander allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a doubleheader Saturday.

    Looper had never started before this season, but was forced into the rotation partly to the questionable status of Mark Mulder. On Wednesday night, the Cardinals announced Mulder -- who struggled in three September starts while coming back from rotator cuff surgery -- will undergo another operation that will end his already abbreviated season.

    Looper will be facing a Houston lineup that had been struggling before a 5-4, 10-inning win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Hunter Pence singled home the winning run for the Astros, who managed just one run en route to losing the series' first two games.

    Carlos Lee homered and had an RBI single for Houston, and is batting .346 (9-for-26) with three home runs and eight RBIs in his last seven games. Lee has 13 RBIs in 12 games against the Cardinals this season, but St. Louis leads the season series 7-5.

    Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, who will retire at the end of the season, is playing his final series at Busch Stadium.

    "There's always been a respect between the two clubs, an appreciation," Biggio told Houston's official Web site. "There's a rivalry, but it's a classy rivalry. ... There's no hate there. You just want to beat each other."

    Biggio, who will play Thursday and Sunday, is batting .311 in 114 games in St. Louis.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Gameday Matchup

     HoustonSt. Louis
    W-L73-8978-84
    Night55-6252-60
    Grass73-8978-84
    Current StreakW2W5
    Last 107-37-3

    Pitching Matchup

    HoustonSt. Louis
    W. Rodriguez
    9-13, 4.58 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/27 at CIN
    7.0 IP, 2 ER
    Dec = ND
    B. Looper
    12-12, 4.94 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/30 at PIT
    0.1 IP, 1 ER
    Dec = ND

    Gameday Lineups

    NO.HoustonSt. Louis
    1. J. Anderson, CF D. Eckstein, SS
    2. C. Biggio, 2B S. Taguchi, LF
    3. L. Berkman, 1B R. Ankiel, CF
    4. C. Lee, LF S. Spiezio, 1B
    5. M. Lamb, 1B R. Ludwick, RF
    6. C. Burke, RF Y. Molina, C
    7. C. Ransom, 2B M. Cairo, LF
    8. J. Towles, C B. Looper, P
    9. W. Rodriguez, P B. Ryan, 2B