The Cardinals, having lost their first series in their last six, will turn to ace Chris Carpenter on Wednesday to try to salvage one game from Houston. The problem is that the Astros will have their ace, Roy Oswalt, pitching.
On Tuesday, Todd Wellemeyer had yet another yo-yo performance, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. Wellemeyer seemed to have an improved change-up, good velocity and a decent curveball, and manager Tony La Russa said, "He made a lot of good pitches."
But La Russa, referring to some critical two-strike hits Wellemeyer allowed, said, "He made too many mistakes. He didn't get away with anything."
Wellemeyer (7-8) saw some light ahead.
"I actually felt better tonight throwing the ball than I have all year," he said. "It's definitely a step forward on how I felt. But the results weren't there.
"It was my bad in not putting (hitters) away. There's definitely more stuff to work on."
Rookie P.J. Walters was similarly inconsistent, having one perfect inning and then giving up five runs, including Carlos Lee's grand slam, in the seventh. He gave up another hit in the eighth and being yanked.
While Wellemeyer is in some danger of losing his rotation spot, Walters likely will find himself in Class AAA Memphis soon because he won't be able to help them for a while having thrown 38 pitches Tuesday. And the Cardinals need a shortstop to spell Brendan Ryan.
ASTROS 11, CARDINALS 6: The good news was that Mark DeRosa cracked his first two homers as a Cardinal, giving him two multi-hit games in succession after he had gone 0-for-15. And Ryan Ludwick had his fifth game of three RBIs or more in the last two weeks, smacking a three-run homer. But Todd Wellemeyer and P.J. Walters gave up 11 runs in a total of 6 1/3 innings.
--OFs Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan already were struggling, and now rookie CF Colby Rasmus has nosedived. Rasmus is 0-for-12 and 1-for-16, an infield hit, since the All-Star break. He was hitting behind in the count in many of those at-bats.
--Manager Tony La Russa lashed out at those Cardinals fans who are criticizing or booing (or both) OF Chris Duncan, who is 1 for his last 31 and seemingly not physically sound yet after having disk replacement surgery in his neck last year. "I'm tired of their unfair treatment of Chris Duncan," La Russa said. "It makes me (sick)."
--The Cardinals defense, generally sharp lately, committed three errors Tuesday, although two of them were by pitchers.
BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Career pickoffs for C Yadier Molina, through July 19.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As long as I can go out there and not think about it, I should be fine. I want to get to the point where the wrist does not consume my every thought at the plate." -- INF/OF Mark DeRosa, returning to action after being disabled with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist.
--1B Albert Pujols continued to have trouble with one of his few nemeses. Already 3-for-20 (all singles) against Houston LHP Wandy Rodriguez, Pujols was hitless in three at-bats Tuesday, swinging at pitches earlier than in the count than he usually does.
--C Jason LaRue, who had success in handling erratic RHP Todd Wellemeyer earlier in the season, was catching again Tuesday, but his presence didn't seem to make much difference. Wellemeyer hasn't made it past the fifth inning in his last two starts and three of the last four.
--RHP Josh Kinney had perhaps his best outing since coming back from Class AAA Memphis. Showing a sharp slider and throwing hard, he struck out both hitters he faced.