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07/20/09 11:15 PM ET

Wellemeyer putting first half behind him

St. Louis (51-44) at Houston (47-46), 7:05 p.m. CT

HOUSTON -- The second half may as well get under way for Todd Wellemeyer. He certainly won't miss the first.

A year after his emergence as a quality starting pitcher, Wellemeyer battled throughout the pre-All-Star portion of 2009. He wasn't always bad, but every time he seemed to get a little momentum, he took a step back.

So the time off was welcome for Wellemeyer. It's been nearly two weeks since he last started a game.

"Maybe sometimes what you need is a little break," Wellemeyer said. "I've been going since January."

The problem for the Cardinals is that as things currently stand, there's not an alternative that particularly excites the coaching staff. Manager Tony La Russa vehemently opposes giving a player a job by default, but the truth is that he doesn't see any more appealing choices than Wellemeyer.

"I think he understands the opportunity he has," La Russa said on Monday. "So I think we're going to get his best shot tomorrow, and we'll see how it goes. He also knows that at this point he's the best we got, but if somebody's better, if somebody starts looking really good, then somebody's vulnerable. And he doesn't want it to be him."

Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Todd Wellemeyer (7-7, 5.56 ERA)
Wellemeyer has been very good on occasion, but he's shown no ability to sustain the good feeling. Houston is not the best place to pitch for a hurler trying to find his way, and Wellemeyer has had more trouble on the road (5.90 ERA) than at home (5.34). The biggest issue, though, is that left-handed hitters have tattooed Wellemeyer -- they're batting .345 and slugging .604 against him.

HOU: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (9-6, 2.81 ERA)
Rodriguez threw six scoreless innings against the Dodgers in his previous start, on Thursday, extending his scoreless innings streak to 17 over three starts. He has a 0.41 ERA in his last three starts, allowing one earned run in 22 innings. With 121 starts, he's tied with Dave Roberts for fourth place all-time among Astros left-handers, and with 703 innings, he's in fifth place among Houston lefties. In his only appearance against the Cardinals this year, he gave up five hits and three runs in six innings at St. Louis on April 12.

Albert Pujols is 3-for-20 with no extra-base hits (but six walks) against Rodriguez. ... Wellemeyer has had more walks than strikeouts in three of his past four starts. ... The Cardinals are 14-14 when the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 8-3, 2.26) at Astros (Roy Oswalt, 6-4, 3.65), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 10-6, 3.01) at Nationals (TBD), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 8-9, 3.09) at Phillies (Cole Hamels, 5-5, 4.72), 6:05 p.m. CT

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.