Cardinals-Marlins Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins may both have to

withstand absences from key offensive contributors.

Albert Pujols’ hot hitting could soften the blow for the

Cardinals.

Pujols looks for another big performance against the Marlins in

the continuation of this four-game series at Sun Life Stadium on

Friday night.

Pujols collected three hits, including a solo homer, as St.

Louis (59-53) defeated Florida 7-4 on Thursday. The Cardinals,

though, were dealt a blow when David Freese took a pitch to the

helmet with the bases loaded in the third inning and came away with

a mild concussion and an RBI.

Freese is likely out for at least one game, and he already

missed nearly two months earlier this season due to a broken

hand.

“I doubt I’ll play Friday, but the disabled list I don’t think

is a possibility,” said Freese, hitting .320 in 58 games.

“The first 10 seconds or so, I couldn’t really see,” he said.

“It stung me pretty good.”

Florida (55-56) will be without Omar Infante after he broke his

right middle finger diving for a grounder Thursday and was placed

on the DL hours before this game. He has a .462 average in his last

13 games, including three hits in each of the last three.

The Marlins have also been without Hanley Ramirez since he

suffered a sprained shoulder while diving for a pop fly in

Tuesday’s 4-3 win at New York. Ramirez is expected to return

Saturday.

Continued production from Pujols may keep the Cardinals thriving

in Miami. They’ve won 13 of their last 18 games there behind a .302

team average and 5.6 runs per game.

Pujols is hitting .444 in his last 13 meetings with the Marlins,

going 8 for 16 with two homers and five RBIs in four road games in

that stretch. He connected for his 25th homer of the season

Thursday, and has eight along with 19 RBIs in his last 22

games.

“Albert gets pitched tough all the time, and he’s just amazing,”

manager Tony La Russa said.

Jake Westbrook (9-5, 4.92 ERA) takes the mound looking to

continue his success away from St. Louis. The right-hander is 5-1

with a 2.70 ERA in his last seven road starts, yielding four runs

over 20 innings in his last three – winning two.

Westbrook carried a perfect game into the sixth inning Sunday,

but gave up four runs with two outs in the sixth during a 6-3 home

loss to Chicago.

He’s 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts against the

Marlins.

Florida has dropped five of seven at home, mostly due to a 9.00

ERA from the rotation.

Anibal Sanchez (6-4, 3.74) may be more concerned with trying to

snap the longest winless stretch of his career.

He’s 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in nine starts since beating Arizona on

June 10. However, he can’t be completely blamed for the drought,

during which he’s gotten 12 total runs of support and allowed two

or fewer runs five times.

The right-hander was victimized by one big inning in Saturday’s

5-1 loss at Atlanta. He surrendered four runs – all in the third –

before leaving after five.

Sanchez is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts against St.

Louis. Pujols is just 1 for 8 against him, but Matt Holliday is 5

for 8 with a homer.