This weekend’s three-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins doesn’t look like such a mismatch anymore.
The Marlins captured last month’s series between these clubs and are winners of 10 of 13 entering Friday night’s opener at Busch Stadium.
Although St. Louis (50-34) is contending in second place in the NL Central and Miami (32-52) is in last place in the East, the rebuilding Marlins are playing much better baseball now than the Cardinals – losers of eight of 11.
Miami rallied to take the final two games of a three-game set in Atlanta, including Thursday’s 4-3 victory. The Marlins came back from three runs down, with pinch-hitter Donovan Solano singling in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning.
“It sure feels good, and I know the guys are fired up,” manager Mike Redmond said. “You’ve got to earn wins in this place against this team, and we earned it.”
St. Louis, meanwhile, blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning in Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Angels to cap a 3-5 trip. Edward Mujica suffered his first blown save after Adam Wainwright failed to retire the lone batter he faced in the ninth.
“He’s been great all year,” Wainwright said. “That’s what happens when you let a leadoff guy on in the last inning. That’s on me, right there.”
The Marlins took two of three at home from the Cardinals from June 14-16, beating Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.95 ERA) in the opener.
Westbrook was charged with five runs – three earned – over five innings in that 5-4 defeat, although he will be happy to be home for this rematch. He has allowed one unearned run and 13 hits over 22 innings at Busch Stadium this year, going 2-0 in three outings.
The right-hander was tagged for six runs over a season-low four innings Sunday in a 7-5 loss at Oakland.
He’ll be opposed by a Missouri-born right-hander who grew up rooting for the Cardinals in Jacob Turner (2-0, 1.76), who has never pitched in St. Louis.
Turner scattered seven hits last Saturday in his first career complete game – a 7-1 victory over San Diego.
“I like to think it was just like any other game, but obviously, it was nice to pitch the whole game,” Turner told the Marlins’ official website. “At the same time, you have to go out there for your next start, throw strikes and let your defense do the work for you.”
Turner gave up one run over five innings June 21, 2012, in his lone career appearance against the Cardinals in Detroit’s 2-1, 10-inning victory.
Allen Craig is swinging a hot bat for St. Louis, going 13 for 29 with four homers and eight RBIs over his last eight games.
The Cardinals made a lineup change Thursday in removing Pete Kozma, hitless in 17 at-bats. Daniel Descalso went 3 for 4 in his place and will start at shortstop while Kozma works on his swing.
Kozma is 2 for 29 with 11 strikeouts over his last eight games.
“We really want Pete to understand that this is a move that can get him right and get him back to the player we know he can be,” manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals’ official website.