After a home sweep put them back on top in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are hoping to stay there by continuing an outstanding stretch at Busch Stadium.
Sending Shelby Miller to the home mound against a team he’s dominated may help that cause.
The surging Cardinals will try for their 10th win in 12 games on their own field when they open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
St. Louis (83-60) trailed Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games heading into their weekend series at Busch, but now leads by that margin after completing a three-game sweep with Sunday’s 9-2 win.
The Cardinals have played well during their latest home tear, averaging 5.7 runs while posting a 3.18 ERA during this 9-2 stretch.
Matt Carpenter, who went 2 for 5 on Sunday, is hitting .433 over his last 15 games at Busch. The second baseman leads the major leagues with a .373 batting average at home.
Miller (12-9, 3.19 ERA) has certainly added to the pitching success, going 7-3 with a 1.92 ERA at home that ranks among the best in the majors. The rookie right-hander, though, hopes to get back on track after going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in his last two starts – both on the road.
“I want the expectation level being there for our young guys,” manager Mike Matheny told the league’s official website. “I want them to feel that they can do this, they’ve done it and they’re going to continue to do it.”
Miller appears to have a good chance to regroup against the Brewers (62-80). He’s 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts – all St. Louis victories – and has struck out 21 in 18 1/3 innings.
Shortstop Jean Segura can’t be happy about seeing Miller since he’s 0 for 9 with five strikeouts against him.
Teammate Norichika Aoki, however, is 5 for 9 with a homer in that matchup and batting .472 in his last 10 games against the Cardinals. Aramis Ramirez has also fared well versus St. Louis, hitting .424 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 16 meetings.
The Brewers are hoping to have Khris Davis back in the lineup after he missed the past three games with a sore left wrist. The rookie outfielder is 6 for 14 against the Cardinals.
Milwaukee looks for its fourth win in five games by giving the ball to Wily Peralta (9-14, 4.51), who has gone 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA while recording three straight quality starts.
The right-hander allowed nine hits but limited the Pirates to three runs over six innings in Wednesday’s 9-3 victory.
“He struggled with his command and then all of a sudden on 3-2 he makes a real good pitch – and he did it more than once – so when he needed to make one, he did,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
Peralta, though, hasn’t been able to escape from jams against the Cardinals. He’s lost both starts behind an 11.57 ERA, allowing 22 hits over 9 1-3 innings.
He gave up six earned runs and 11 hits over five innings in a 7-6 loss at Busch Stadium on May 17.
David Freese homered off Peralta in that game and has gone 3 for 5 with five RBIs in their matchups, while Carpenter is 4 for 6 when facing Peralta.
The Cardinals have averaged 5.8 runs and batted .301 while winning 10 of 13 against the Brewers.