Cardinals-Diamondbacks Preview

With the St. Louis Cardinals struggling both on offense and

defense, Chris Carpenter’s turn in the rotation couldn’t come at a

much better time.

Carpenter will try to help the Cardinals snap out of their slump

Sunday by earning his fourth straight victory and remaining

unbeaten against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Cardinals (34-28) enter the finale of this three-game set

having dropped five of six to fall 1 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in

the NL Central. They’ve been outscored 30-17 during the slump,

batting .194 as a team and posting a 5.12 staff ERA. Their ERA

before this stretch was a major league-leading 2.98.

In Saturday night’s 7-2 loss, St. Louis managed seven hits to

the Diamondbacks’ 12. Adam LaRoche homered twice for Arizona, and

Mark Reynolds went 3 for 4 with his third home run in six

contests.

The win was Arizona’s fifth in nine games since its 10-game

losing streak.

The streaky LaRoche has nine homers this season, six of which

have come in three games.

“It’s not totally unusual for me to have them come in bunches,”

LaRoche said, “normally not in the same game like it is this year.

But I’m starting to feel better. It started three days ago, I kind

of tweaked some things in my stance to try to get in better

position to drive the ball. Right now, it’s going pretty good.”

Hitting against Carpenter (7-1, 2.54 ERA) could prove a little

more difficult. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA in his last

three starts, and fell just short of another win Tuesday night in

Los Angeles despite one of his best efforts of the season.

Carpenter scattered six hits over seven scoreless innings and

walked one, but the Dodgers finally broke through in the eighth for

a 1-0 victory over St. Louis.

“Carp pitched great but we just didn’t have enough offense to

help him out,” outfielder Matt Holliday told the Cardinals’

official website.

As he goes for his 125th career victory, Carpenter will try to

improve on his 4-0 record and 2.14 ERA in eight lifetime starts

against the Diamondbacks (25-38).

He did not get a decision in a 9-4 victory April 21 at Chase

Field despite a season high-tying 10 strikeouts. Carpenter allowed

three runs and six hits over seven innings.

His counterpart from that game, Edwin Jackson (3-6, 5.38), will

also start Sunday. The Diamondbacks right-hander yielded four runs

over eight innings in the April 21 loss, falling to 0-2 with a 3.72

ERA in three career starts versus the Cardinals.

Seeing Jackson could help several slumping Cardinals. Yadier

Molina (5 for 6), Colby Rasmus (4 for 6), Aaron Miles (3 for 7),

Holliday (4 for 10) and Albert Pujols (3 for 9) have all had

success against him.

Jackson allowed four runs and nine hits over six innings Tuesday

night against Atlanta and did not get a decision in a 7-5 home

defeat.