Cardinals-Padres Preview

Kyle McClellan might be the biggest surprise among baseball’s

wins leaders, and he has a strong chance to gain sole possession of

first on that list.

McClellan looks to become the majors’ first seven-game winner as

the St. Louis Cardinals face the punchless San Diego Padres in the

middle game of this series Tuesday night.

McClellan (6-1, 3.43 ERA) is tied with teammate Kyle Lohse and a

slew of others at six victories, but he could be the most unlikely

member of that club.

Due to a season-ending injury to Adam Wainwright, McClellan is

in his first full season as a starter with St. Louis (29-20) after

going 7-15 with a 3.23 ERA over the previous three years while

being used exclusively out of the bullpen.

The right-hander was impressive again Thursday, yielding two

runs and five hits in eight innings while tossing just 90 pitches

in a 4-2 win over Houston. He’s thrown fewer than 100 pitches in

eight of his nine games.

“I don’t know what my pitch count was, but I thought I was

throwing a lot of strikes,” McClellan said Thursday. “That’s when

I’m at my best, locating down in the zone.”

McClellan is 0-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five relief appearances at

spacious Petco Park, and his first start there may produce similar

results. The Padres (19-29) are an NL-worst 8-19 as host while

hitting .202.

San Diego hasn’t scored more than one run in five consecutive

home games, getting shut out once, and losing four of those

games.

The Cardinals, who have won seven of eight, capitalized on the

Padres’ woeful offense Monday in a 3-1 victory.

Albert Pujols is trying to build on his first home run in 28

games after breaking a scoreless tie in the sixth in the series

opener. The All-Star first baseman is batting .268 – 61 points

below his career average – with eight homers and 26 RBIs.

He’s homered in three of his last five games at Petco and each

of the past two.

“You watch, he’s making contact like that. He might not have the

first 10 days of the season,” manager Tony La Russa said. “After

that he’s made contact. He just keeps hitting it hard. They’re

pitching him like he’s hitting .350, so every at-bat’s a tough one

for him.”

The Padres have been outscored 28-7 during a 1-6 run, and their

398 strikeouts lead the majors by 20 on Washington.

“I think our guys come to play every day,” manager Bud Black

said. “They come expecting to win. No, I don’t think the cumulative

effect will have an impact on us (Tuesday).”

Black gives the ball to Aaron Harang (5-2, 4.31), who is well

aware of San Diego’s offensive shortcomings.

The right-hander scattered six hits in eight scoreless innings

while the Padres were limited to seven hits and went 0 for 5 with

runners in scoring position in a 1-0 loss to Milwaukee on

Thursday.

Harang is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA in six home starts, getting one or

no runs in three of his last four, including both losses.

While Harang is in his first season with San Diego, facing the

Cardinals produced similar trends with Cincinnati. He’s lost four

starts in a row to the NL Central leaders behind a 4.68 ERA while

the Reds backed him with three total runs.