While he was dreadful in his first road start for the St. Louis Cardinals, John Lackey has appeared pretty comfortable so far at Busch Stadium.
The right-hander will try to produce a third consecutive quality outing at home and give the Cardinals’ playoffs hopes another boost while adding to the Cincinnati Reds’ and Alfredo Simon’s woes.
In his second start after being acquired from Boston on July 31, Lackey was lit up for a season-high nine runs and 13 hits over five innings in a 10-3 loss in Baltimore on Aug. 9. He bounced back nicely from that miserable showing Thursday and helped St. Louis (67-57) earn a 4-3 win over San Diego.
He yielded two runs and five hits in seven innings but did not get a decision. Lackey (1-1, 6.16 ERA) also worked seven strong innings in a 3-2 win over Milwaukee in his debut with the Cardinals on Aug. 3.
"It’s been great here at home, for sure," Lackey said. "I feel like it’s a good ball park to pitch in, and the guys have played well behind me in those two games."
St. Louis will try to move to a season-high 11 games over .500 while padding its 2 1/2-game lead on an NL wild-card spot and cutting its 2 1/2-game deficit to the Brewers in the NL Central.
Facing a struggling Simon (12-8, 3.28) might help the Cardinals accomplish those tasks. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break, and he was charged with a career-high seven runs and 10 hits over five innings in a 7-3 loss at Colorado on Thursday.
"He still has the stuff to be successful. Unfortunately, he’s not having any success," manager Bryan Price said of Simon, who is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his last three road starts. "He’s going to continue to get the ball. The only way to learn how to pitch a season as a starter is to pitch a season as a starter."
The Reds (61-64) have dropped eight of 10 and 15 of 20 on the road heading into Tuesday night. They’ve also lost seven of 10 to the Cardinals this season and seven of their last nine games in St. Louis.
After his team blew a one-run lead in the seventh, Jay Bruce hit a tying double in the ninth Monday and finished with a season-high four RBIs, but Jhonny Peralta gave the Cardinals a 6-5 victory by singling home Matt Holliday in the 10th.
Simon will make his first start against St. Louis and Lackey will make his second against Cincinnati in 12 seasons. The longtime AL pitcher earned a 6-3 road win in his only other matchup on June 13, 2007, while with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Cardinals’ Jon Jay, batting .464 during a 10-game hit streak, has one hit in his last seven at-bats against Simon. Brayan Pena is 3 for 6 lifetime versus Lackey and is batting .328 in his last 16 games.