Cardinals-Diamondbacks Preview

After enduring a bit of a slump, the St. Louis Cardinals appear

to have it going again at the plate.

Coming off another big offensive effort, the Cardinals look for

a fourth straight victory to complete their first road sweep of the

struggling Arizona Diamondbacks in eight years Wednesday night.

St. Louis (19-11) has totaled 23 runs and 32 hits during its

current three-game winning streak that followed a season-high

three-game skid during which the NL Central leaders were held to

nine and 22, respectively.

After scoring three times in the first inning of a 9-6

series-opening win Monday, the Cardinals totaled all of their runs

in the first two frames of Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Arizona. For

the first time since 1986, St. Louis has scored in the first inning

of eight straight contests.

The Cardinals, whose 167 runs rank among the most in the majors,

last swept a series in Arizona from April 9-11, 2004.

Carlos Beltran was responsible for all the scoring Tuesday,

hitting a two-homer in the first and adding a grand slam in second.

A lifetime .363 hitter with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs against the

Diamondbacks, Beltran has three homers in the series, and is 6 for

16 with eight RBIs in his last four games.

“It’s confidence, it’s results, it’s a little bit of

everything,” Beltran said. “I’m just going through good times. In

this game, you go through ups and downs.”

After starters Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook held the

Diamondbacks (14-17) scoreless over 12 innings of the first two

games, Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.11 ERA) looks to rebound from his worst

outing of the season in the finale. The right-hander allowed five

runs – three earned – and seven hits in a season-low five innings

of a 5-4 loss at Houston on Friday.

“I didn’t think I had too bad of control,” said Lohse, who

yielded three earned runs in his first five starts but six in the

last two. “It was one of those things where you are out there

grinding, feel like you are hitting your spots, and you keep

running full counts and 2-2 counts.”

Lohse has not had it easy versus Arizona – going 2-2 with a 5.36

ERA in eight starts. He’s 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in five outings at

Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks, however, are looking to avoid matching a

season-high fifth consecutive defeat. Arizona has been held to one

run three times while losing seven of 11 overall.

“We haven’t played the way we’re capable of recently,” manager

Kirk Gibson said. “You can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves

because we haven’t been as successful as we wanted to be. We have

to keep it in perspective.”

Aaron Hill had three of the team’s six hits and Miguel Montero

drove in the lone run in the ninth Tuesday as the reigning NL West

champions dropped their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games at

Chase Field.

Arizona’s Wade Miley (3-0, 2.33) makes his fourth straight start

in place of the injured Daniel Hudson and faces the Cardinals for

the first time. The left-hander had allowed one run in 12 1-3

innings while winning his first two starts, but gave up four in six

innings of a 5-4 win at New York on Friday.

It’s uncertain if Miley will face St. Louis star catcher Yadier

Molina, who left in the ninth Tuesday after he was hit on the back

of his gloved hand trying to grab a pitch.

Preliminary X-rays were negative.