Preview: Kelly takes the ball as starter for first time this season

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Paul Goldschmidt’s production at the plate tends to have a major impact on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ success.

That’s particularly true against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Goldschmidt looks to continue being one of the main catalysts behind the NL West leaders Wednesday night in St. Louis.

The 25-year-old has emerged as Arizona’s top hitter, leading the team with a .335 average, 13 homers and 49 RBIs in his second full season in the majors, and his influence on games has been obvious. He’s batting .413 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in Diamondbacks victories compared to .221 with two home runs and eight RBIs in defeat.

His production is a big reason Arizona (32-25) leads the division by two games over second-place San Francisco. The Diamondbacks host the Giants for three games this weekend.

Goldschmidt will likely be key if they’re going to pad their lead before that series. He’s 9 for 20 with two doubles and two homers while plating five runs in four wins over the Cardinals, but 1 for 21 with a homer and two RBIs in seven career defeats.

That disparity in production has held true in this series. He went 0 for 4 in Monday’s 7-1 loss to open this four-game set before getting three hits – two doubles – with two RBIs, while driving in the go-ahead run in a 7-6, 14-inning win a day later.

Goldschmidt is among baseball’s leaders with a .451 average, six homers and 36 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

“I pretend there is nobody on base and just stick with my same approach,” he said. “It’s worked so far. We’ll see what happens the rest of the year.”

Wade Miley (3-5, 5.01 ERA) is more concerned with the immediate future as he seeks to end a career-high four game losing streak during which he has compiled a 9.14 ERA. He had been 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in his first seven outings of the season after his 16 wins led the team last year, and his 3.33 ERA was the rotation’s lowest.

The left-hander is trying to avoid over-analyzing his recent performances after surrendering seven runs and three homers in seven innings of a 7-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Miley said. “I don’t even want to talk about it until after. I just want to go pitch.”

Miley was charged with a 7-2 loss in his only start against the Cardinals on May 9, 2012, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The Cardinals are expected to give Joe Kelly (0-2, 6.75) his first start of the season since Shelby Miller’s scheduled outing was pushed back a day.

Kelly, though, may need to go deep after five relievers combined to throw 9 1/3 innings Tuesday. All 16 of his appearances this season have come out of the bullpen, and his longest lasted three innings and 62 pitches in a defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 25.

Kelly went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA over 16 starts last year.

“I don’t know if I’m that kind of guy where I need to be built up,” Kelly told the team’s official website. “If they ask for 80 pitches, I’ll be able to give them 80 pitches.”

He’s 1-0 while allowing five runs and three homers in nine innings over one start and three total games versus Arizona.

Matt Carpenter is on a career-high 13-game hitting streak, compiling a .418 average. However, he became the first Cardinal to get plunked three times in a game Tuesday.