Cincinnati Struggles

Albert Pujols appears to have regained his home run stroke. Now, both he and the St. Louis Cardinals will try to avoid falling back into another slump.

Pujols looks to lead the resurgent Cardinals to their fifth win in six games when they welcome the struggling Cincinnati Reds to Busch Stadium on Tuesday night to start a three-game series.

Oddsmakers have made Cincinnati -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Cincinnati -125 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Pujols homered twice - including a two-run shot in the 10th inning - to lift the Cardinals to an 8-6 win over Houston on Sunday. Pujols leads St. Louis (24-30) with only 11 homers after averaging nearly 42 during his six-year career coming into 2007.

The 2005 NL MVP said he's developing more patience at the plate after hitting just three homers last month.

"If you tell me I was trying to do too much, maybe, I don't know," said Pujols, who also hit a solo homer in the eighth Sunday. "I chased a lot of bad pitches early. Now, I just let the pitcher come to me. If I have to take my walk, I'll take my walk."

Pujols had his first two-homer game of the season on April 15 in a 10-2 win over Milwaukee. The defending world champions, though, followed with a four-game losing streak in which they were outscored 21-10 and hit only .173.

Pujols was held without a hit in three of those contests, and batted .200 (3-for-15) with a homer and two RBIs overall. He failed to record a homer in the Cardinals' only series against Cincinnati (22-36) this year, but hit .364 (4-for-11) with two RBIs as St. Louis took two of the three games played April 24-26 at Busch.

Pujols is batting .367 (11-for-30) with a homer and four RBIs in his career against Reds ace Aaron Harang (6-2, 4.22 ERA), who will try to win consecutive starts for just the second time this season when he takes the mound Tuesday. Harang won back-to-back starts in St. Louis and in Pittsburgh in late April.

Since the start of last season, Harang is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in four starts in St. Louis.

On Wednesday, the right-hander tossed a six-hitter for his first complete game of the season in the Reds' 4-3 win in Houston. Harang struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.

"That's what you want to try to do every time, throw strikes," Harang said. "You throw strikes, obviously, good things happen."

Cincinnati, which owns the NL's worst record, fell to 3-3 on its nine-game road trip after losing 10-9 in 10 innings to Colorado on Sunday. Four Reds relievers combined to allow five runs, seven hits and five walks in the final 2 2-3 innings.

"When you have four rookies in the bullpen, they're going to be inconsistent," Reds manager Jerry Narron told the team's official Web site. "If they want to stay here, they have to come in and throw strikes."

Adam Dunn leads the Reds with 14 homers and Ken Griffey Jr. is second with 12, but he has only one in his last nine games. Griffey hit his first homer of the year on April 24 in St. Louis, and will face Todd Wellemeyer (1-0, 3.86), who will try to build off an impressive debut as a starter for the Cardinals.

The right-hander, acquired off waivers from the Kansas City Royals on May 15, held Colorado to three runs and seven hits over five innings of an 8-4 road victory on Wednesday. It was his first major league start after 119 relief appearances over five seasons with four teams.

Wellemeyer is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in 12 appearances against the Reds.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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