The Astros Are In Town For The Weekend

The National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals continue the defense of their 2004 pennant this weekend against the team they defeated to capture the crown. <p> The Cards defeated the Astros in a hard-fought National League Championship series four games to three last October. It was St. Louis' 16th N.L. title.

The Houston Astros (8-7) are in St. Louis tonight to begin a three game series against the (9-5) Cardinals at Busch stadium.

The Astros will be looking to avenge their loss in the hard-fought National League Championship series last season. The Cardinals defeated the Astros four games to three last October to clinch their 16th N.L. title.

Houston is coming into town on a three game winning streak, after picking up an 8-7 victory over the Brewers on Thursday.

This is the third game this season between the two NL Central Division perennial power houses. The Cardinals split the first two games to open the season in the Houston's on April 5 & 6.

The Cardinals start the day in first place in the NL Central just a game and a half ahead of the visiting Astros and Cincinnati Reds.

Expect exciting, hard fought baseball and a well played series over the weekend. The Cardinals or Astros have won the National League Central division in eight of the past nine seasons, and with the Sosa-less Chicago Cubs it will most likely come down to these two clubs again this season.

Since the start of the 2004 campaign, the Cards and Astros have played a total of 27 times (including postseason), with Houston winning 14 and St. Louis 13, it doesn't get much closer than that.

The Cardinals will be looking to even that record at .500 tonight, sending Jason Marquis, the club's best starter this season, to the mound.

He'll be facing the Astros' Brandon Duckworth, who is 0-0 with a bloated 9.00 ERA. Duckworth a spot starter has allowed 22 earned runs (7.71 ERA) in 25 1/3 innings.

In contrast, Marquis has been very sharp in each of his three games this season, allowing just three earned runs in 20 1-3 innings, giving him an ERA of just 1.33 for the season.

In addition to his strong pitching, Marquis can beat you with his bat, he recently hit a three-RBI triple in the second inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds, leading his team to victory with his arm and bat.

The young right-hander has won his last two starts, including a 3-2 win on Sunday at Milwaukee in which he pitched 8.0 innings and allowed a run on three hits while walking one and fanning five.

Jason took at no-decision in the Cards second game of the season in 4-1 loss at Houston on 4/6 (6.0,9,1,1,1,4).

Marquis broke out last season with a 15-7 record, 138 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for St. Louis. The 26 year old young righty went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts vs. Stros and is 1-2, 6.03 ERA all-time vs. Houston.

COMING UP

Fri., April 22 vs. ASTROS: Jason Marquis (2-0, 1.33) vs. Brandon Duckworth (0-0, 9.00) 7:10 p.m.*

Sat., April 23 vs. ASTROS: Mark Mulder (1-1, 4.74) vs. Roger Clemens (1-0, 0.43) 1:15 p.m.#

Sun., April 24 vs. ASTROS: Matt Morris (1-0, 1.50) vs. Brandon Backe (0-0, 3.93) 1:15 p.m.#

Mon., April 25 vs. BREWERS: Jeff Suppan (1-2, 3.38) vs. Ben Sheets (1-3, 3.95) 7:10 p.m.*

Tue., April 26 vs. BREWERS: Chris Carpenter (2-1, 6.35+) vs. Doug Davis (2-1, 3.63+) 7:10 p.m.*

Wed., April 27 vs. BREWERS: Jason Marquis (2-0, 1.33+) vs. Victor Santos (0-0, 2.08+) 12:10 p.m.*

Times listed are Central. All games broadcast on KMOX Radio

# WB11-TV * Fox Sports-Net/Midwest + FOX Network % ESPN @ESPN2


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