(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals are playing themselves out of postseason contention, but at least they'll be able to conclude a horrendous road trip today in the finale of a three-game series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
St. Louis has lost four in a row and is 2-7 on a 10-game swing through Pittsburgh, Washington and Houston -- all teams with losing records. It has been shut out in back-to-back 3-0 losses to the Astros and fell seven games behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead after Tuesday's defeat.
Houston scored all three of its runs in the third inning and Cardinals co-ace Chris Carpenter was saddled with the loss for allowing three runs -- two earned -- and six hits through seven innings. Jon Jay, Matt Holliday and Brendan Ryan provided the three hits for the Cardinals, who still have life in the wild card standings at four games behind Philadelphia.
"Unfortunately it's not going well for us right now," said Carpenter. "We gotta come out [Wednesday] and do everything we can and try to salvage something from this series."
The Cardinals, losers in 12 of their last 16 games, must not overlook today's opponent with the despised Reds set to invade Busch Stadium for three games over the weekend.
Jeff Suppan will be in charge of pulling the Cards to victory and is slated to take the mound Wednesday. Suppan has been on the disabled list with a groin strain and is just 1-4 in eight starts with the Cardinals. He was 0-4 in his previous five outings before besting Pittsburgh the last time out on July 31, when he delivered 5 1/3 shutout innings and five strikeouts.
Suppan, a right-hander, lost to Houston back on July 10, when he permitted four runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 4-1 loss. He is 3-8 with a 5.12 earned run average in 19 career meetings (17 starts) with the Astros.
Houston has been on a roll as of late with eight wins in its last 10 contests. It will be aiming for its second sweep of the Cardinals this season and won all three encounters with them from May 11-13 in the Gateway City.
In last night's second straight blanking of the Cardinals, starter Wandy Rodriguez hurled seven shutout innings of two-hit ball for the win and Brandon Lyon later posted his 10th save in the ninth.
"It's becoming a nice habit to say that our starting pitching did an outstanding job," said Houston manager Brad Mills. "And again, Wandy did a great job again tonight. He's been outstanding for the past two or three months."
Hunter Pence hit a two-run triple during the decisive three-run fourth inning and Chris Johnson added an RBI single two batters later.
Taking the mound for Houston this afternoon will be Nelson Figueroa and he's 1-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 11 games (3 starts) for his ballclub. Figueroa, who also made 13 appearances (1 start) for Philadelphia this season, lost his most recent start on Friday in a 2-1 defeat against the New York Mets. He allowed only two runs -- one earned -- in seven innings.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 career games (4 starts) against the Cardinals.
Houston has won nine of 14 meetings with the Cardinals this season.