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The St. Louis Cardinals jumped out to a fast start this season, but they have been struggling to string together wins lately.
The Cardinals hope to carry over some momentum from a thrilling victory, and win two straight for the first time in a week and a half when they wrap up their three-game set against the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made St. Louis -134 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 85% of bets for this game have been placed on St. Louis –134 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
St. Louis (15-10) matched Arizona for the majors' best start with an 11-4 record, but the Cardinals have won only four of 10 since.
They dropped Friday's series opener with the Astros (12-13) in disappointing fashion as closer Jason Isringhausen yielded three runs in the ninth inning en route to a 3-2 defeat. The Cardinals bounced back to win 4-3 on Saturday thanks to Skip Schumaker's walkoff single in the ninth.
"It was a great game," said Adam Wainwright, who pitched the Cardinals' first complete game of the season on Saturday. "They really played hard. It's just a huge win.''
St. Louis has not won back-to-back games since defeating Milwaukee on April 15 and 16. To make it two in a row now, the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (2-0, 2.54 ERA) will have to bounce back from his worst outing of 2008.
Lohse allowed four runs and eight hits in a season-low four innings of Tuesday's 9-8, 12-inning win over the Brewers. The right-hander had given up just four runs in 24 1-3 innings over his first four starts of the season.
Lohse allowed just four hits in eight innings of a 14-0 win for Cincinnati in his first career start against the Astros on Aug. 22, 2006, but has posted a 4.66 ERA in losing his last three starts against them.
Saturday's loss snapped Houston's season-high six-game winning streak.
"We recently showed we can come back," Houston manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros' official Web site. "That's what you've got to do. That was a pretty tough team on the other side there."
Houston had only five hits, but three were solo homers and Lance Berkman had two of them for his 22nd career multihomer game. Berkman, who is 9-for-18 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last six games, is 2-for-9 with a homer versus Lohse in his career.
Carlos Lee is batting .386 (17-for-44) with three home runs and six doubles lifetime against Lohse, while Miguel Tejada is 6-for-13 (.462) versus him.
Brandon Backe (1-2, 4.15) looks to help the Astros win their third straight series. After yielding five runs and a season-high 10 hits in a season-low three innings of a 10-2 loss to Philadelphia on April 17, Backe gave up three runs and four hits in a season-high seven innings of an 11-7 win over San Diego on Tuesday, but didn't factor in the decision.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 6.66 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals. In his only start against St. Louis last year, Backe allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory on Sept. 21.
Albert Pujols had a two-run double on Saturday, and has reached base safely in all 25 games this season. The slugger is 3-for-10 with three homers lifetime against Backe.