The St. Louis Cardinals may be eyeing another series with the
team they’re chasing in the NL Central, but overlooking the Florida
Marlins could be costly.
The Cardinals will try to avoid losing more ground in the
division chase when they face the surging Marlins in the opener of
a four-game set Thursday night.
St. Louis (58-53) led the Central as recently as last week but
has dropped five of eight to fall 3 1/2 games back of
The Cardinals blew a chance to get closer this week, losing two
of three to the Brewers in an emotional series capped by
Wednesday’s 10-5 defeat. The rivals were embroiled in a bean-ball
exchange the previous day with stars Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun
getting hit, while Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had words with
heckling Milwaukee fans.
St. Louis hosts the Brewers for a three-game set that begins
First, the Cardinals need to remain focused on the Marlins
(55-55), who are looking to move above .500 for the first time
since June 11. Florida has won eight of 10, averaging 6.3 runs in
those victories while batting .295 with 16 homers.
St. Louis’ starting pitching is coming off a bad run through the
rotation, giving up 31 runs in 28 innings over five games.
That stretch began with Kyle Lohse (9-7, 3.33 ERA) falling
behind 5-0 in the first inning against the Cubs on Saturday, but he
lasted five innings and got a win as the Cardinals rallied for a
It was the fourth time in five outings that Lohse, who hasn’t
won back-to-back starts since May, has given up at least five runs.
He also allowed five in his first start versus Florida this year
but did not get a decision after going six innings in a 6-5 loss
Lohse is 1-2 with a 6.56 ERA in his last four starts against the
Marlins and has lost his past two in Miami, allowing 11 runs in 11
It’s unclear if Pujols’ left wrist is still an issue. He went 0
for 5 with two strikeouts Wednesday after getting hit near where he
broke the wrist earlier this season. He went 1 for 14 in the
Milwaukee series after getting eight hits – six for extra bases –
in his previous four games.
“He’ll never admit to anything. It is what it is,” La Russa told
the team’s official website. “I’m sure he’s sore. No excuses.”
The Cardinals and Marlins split four games in St. Louis from May
Florida manager Jack McKeon doesn’t feel his team has lost any
momentum after the conclusion of a three-game set with New York was
postponed due to rain Wednesday. Florida took the first two of that
“I don’t think it messes up things too bad,” McKeon said. “It
just gives the pitchers an extra day, which is good. That doesn’t
hurt us there.”
Clay Hensley (1-3, 3.09 ERA) gets the ball after an extra day
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts
following a stint on the disabled list with a sprained
Hensley, used as a reliever for the majority of his six-year
career, cruised through six shutout innings before allowing three
runs and getting pulled after the seventh of a 5-0 loss at Atlanta
He’s 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in seven games versus the Cardinals,
winning his only start against them with San Diego on May 26,
The Marlins are expecting Hanley Ramirez to return during this
series after he sprained his shoulder Tuesday while diving for a
St. Louis will be without catcher Yadier Molina, who was
suspended for five games Thursday after bumping an umpire several
times and spraying him with spittle during a run-in this week.