Royals Will Try to Take Game Two

By: By JON PALMIERI, STATS Senior Writer
By: By JON PALMIERI, STATS Senior Writer

Kansas City (29-42) at St. Louis (30-37)

On just about any other team, Kip Wells would be working out his problems in the bullpen. The St. Louis Cardinals, however, don't have that luxury right now.

Wells looks to avoid his major league-leading 12th loss Tuesday night when the Cardinals continue a three-game series against the improving Kansas City Royals.

The Cardinals (30-37) were forced to put another starting pitcher on the disabled list Monday with Braden Looper suffering from a strained right shoulder.

Looper moved to the rotation this year after spending his first nine seasons as a reliever. He has already pitched 83 innings after throwing just 73 1/3 last season.

Looper joins ace Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder - both former 20-game winners - on the DL.

With three injured starters, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was forced to leave Wells (2-11, 6.93 ERA) in the rotation. La Russa admitted that he would have liked to move Wells to the bullpen for a short time to try and allow the struggling starter to regroup mentally, but Looper's injury prevented that from becoming a reality.

"If we hadn't lost Braden, (Wells) probably would have taken a stretch in the bullpen. But we don't have that alternative," La Russa said on the Cardinals' official Web site.

Improving on his last start shouldn't be too difficult for Wells, who had his worst outing of the season Thursday in a 17-8 loss at Kansas City (29-42). He lasted only 1 1-3 innings and allowed six runs, three hits and four walks.

Wells has surrendered five runs or more in eight of 14 starts this season. He is 0-3 with a 21.85 ERA in his last three starts against the Royals.

Kansas City continued its improved play with a 5-3 victory in Monday's series opener, as Odalis Perez won for only the second time in 10 starts.

John Buck homered and Mark Teahen had two hits and an RBI for the Royals, who have won seven of 10 overall and nine of 13 interleague games this season.

A victory in one of the next two games would give Kansas City four straight series wins for the first time since June 13-26, 2003.

"The team hasn't thought about it, and I didn't even know about it," Royals manager Buddy Bell said.

St. Louis' offense was held mainly in check Monday after scoring 25 runs in its last two games at Oakland.

The Cardinals, losers of four of five at home, are 4-9 against the AL.

Albert Pujols should be happy to see Scott Elarton (2-2, 8.54) again. The Cardinals' slugger is 5-for-10 with three home runs against the Royals' right-hander.

Elarton looks to rebound from his worst start of the season. He lasted only two-plus innings Thursday, yielding six runs and five hits with three walks, but Kansas City beat Wells and the Cardinals. Elarton has allowed four runs or more in six straight starts while pitching more than five innings only twice in that span.

Elarton is 3-3 with a 6.43 ERA in seven career starts against St. Louis, giving up 18 runs over 11 2-3 innings in the last three.

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