Cardinals-Marlins preview

(AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals spoiled the debut of the Miami Marlins’
new park in a brief visit back in April. With their next game in Miami,
they’ll try to match their longest win streak of the season.

Jake Westbrook and his hot-hitting teammates will try to help deliver
that fourth consecutive victory and the Cardinals’ seventh in a row over
the Marlins on Monday night.

St. Louis won 4-1 in the first game at Marlins Park on April 4 with
World Series MVP David Freese providing all the offense necessary with a
two-run single in the opening frame.

The Cardinals (38-35) head into their three-game stay in Miami after a
sweep over Kansas City in which they scored 30 runs and pounded out 41
hits. That performance followed a 5-7 stretch in which they produced 34
runs.

Freese hit the go-ahead single in the seventh inning of an 11-8 victory
Sunday and St. Louis tacked on four more runs in the eighth. Carlos
Beltran hit a three-run homer in the first – he’s tied for the NL lead
with 20 – and had eight RBIs during the series.

“We know we’re a good offensive team that’s going to be able to score
runs,” Beltran said. “It’s good to see guys getting healthy and swinging
the bat a lot better.”

Westbrook (6-6, 3.83 ERA) will try to earn his third win in as many starts by building on an outstanding outing.

The right-hander gave up one unearned run, five hits and a walk
Wednesday in his first complete game of the season, a 3-1 victory in
Detroit on Wednesday night. He hadn’t gone more than seven innings in
any of his 22 previous starts dating to Aug. 10.

Westbrook is 1-0 with a 2.96 ERA in four career starts against the
Marlins (34-38), and he might get another win if the Cardinals can add
to Ricky Nolasco’s recent woes.

The right-hander is 2-6 with a 7.36 ERA over his last eight starts, with
Wednesday’s visit to Fenway Park registering as by far the worst.
Nolasco (6-6, 5.16) was tagged for a season-high nine runs over 3 1-3
innings in a 15-5 drubbing.

He might not have it much easier Monday. Nolasco is 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA
in six career starts against the Cardinals, one of two NL teams he’s
never beaten along with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Matt Holliday, who’s 17 for 31 (.548) with 12 RBIs in his last eight
games overall, is 9 for 18 with two homers, two doubles and a triple off
Nolasco.

The Marlins, who avoided a sweep with Sunday’s 9-0 win against Toronto,
are looking for their first back-to-back victories since June 2-3. They
had lost six in a row and 15 of 17 before Hanley Ramirez called a
players-only meeting Saturday night.

Ramirez hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning of Sunday’s win. Greg
Dobbs went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and John Buck added a three-run
shot.

“I don’t think it happened because of the meeting, but when you have a
players’ meeting and you act and play this way, that is something that
is very positive. It’s nice to see those guys having fun on the field,”
manager Ozzie Guillen said.

The Cardinals have never won seven in a row over the Marlins and are seeking a series-high sixth consecutive win in Miami.