the cards are catching oliver perez at the right time; after 3 consecutive good starts at the end of may, he has opened june by dropping two turds, the longer of which lasted three innings. his era for the month is 25.20 . . . . in spite of which, even the lowly pirates have outpitched the cardinals since may 1 -- stl's team era in that 37-game span is 4.47, vs the pirates' 4.07. the bucs have more or less kept pace with the cards over that stretch -- they're 18-20, while the cardinals are 2 1/2 games better at 20-17. a at least one pirate fan isn't scared of st louis anymore.
doesn't matter; the cards still need to fatten up on this team, against which they have won 29 of the last 39 matches (a .744 clip). it's their last "easy" series for a while; they come home to play the always troublesome rockies, then hit the road for six games against the two best teams in baseball (tigers and chisox). the lineups have already posted; duncan is starting at 1st base vs the left-handed perez (i guess spiezio is still hurting?). craig wilson is in the lineup for pittsburgh, batting 7th; jeromy burnitz, who's apparently got some minor owie, is out.