Marlins-Cardinals Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals are unsure whether Yadier Molina will be

available Sunday as they try for their first three-game home sweep

of the Miami Marlins in 13 years.

They could like their chances either way since starter Lance

Lynn has won nine straight regular-season decisions at Busch

Stadium although he pitched poorly earlier this year against

Miami.

Lynn (10-3, 3.75 ERA) may not have Molina as a batterymate

Sunday.

Molina sat out Saturday’s 5-4 victory and was sent for medical

tests for a knee injury that developed Friday. He told teammates he

didn’t believe it was anything serious, and Tony Cruz started in

his place.

The catcher leads the NL with a .346 average and has six homers

and 45 RBIs. Manager Mike Matheny said that Molina could play

Sunday if he checks out OK.

“We saw some things during the game (Friday) that gave us an

indication,” Matheny said. “So we’re going to have to wait and see

what the medical staff says.”

The Cardinals (52-34), who last swept a three-game set at home

against the Marlins from May 23-25, 2000, will see if Lynn can

continue his impressive streak. He’s 9-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his

last 11 regular-season home appearances – 10 starts.

The right-hander, however, has dropped back-to-back starts for

the first time in his career. He gave up five runs over six innings

in Tuesday’s 5-1 defeat to the Angels.

His lone career start against Miami (32-54) was a 13-7 victory

June 15 when he got credit for the win despite yielding a

career-high seven runs over five innings.

St. Louis has taken two close games in this series, winning the

opener 4-1 on Friday. One day later, the Cardinals rallied from two

runs down in the seventh inning and won when Jon Jay scored the

winning run from first on a single after right fielder Giancarlo

Stanton’s throwing error with two outs in the ninth.

“We’ve had a lot of close games like this that we couldn’t quite

pull off at the end,” Matheny said. “So, it doesn’t matter to me.

Just that we did.”

The Marlins entered this series winners of 10 of 13 games, but

will suffer their first series loss in five. Manager Mike Redmond

was ejected in the fourth inning Saturday.

“You can only take so much, right?” Redmond said. “I think of

those guys in the dugout and they’re busting their butts. You’ve

got to stick up for those guys, too.”

Stanton has played all 24 games since returning June 10 after

missing 36 due to a right hamstring injury. Redmond indicated he

may rest the slugger Sunday.

“You can kind of tell when a guy starts to drag a little bit out

there, and give him some days,” Redmond told the Marlins’ official

website. “They have ways of letting you know they need a

break.”

Miami starter Jose Fernandez (5-4, 2.72) won his only start

versus St. Louis, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 5-4

victory June 14.

That’s part of an impressive six-start stretch for the rookie

right-hander during which he’s 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA, including eight

stellar innings in Monday’s 4-0 home win over San Diego. However,

he’s 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA on the road compared to 3-0 with a 1.47

mark in Miami.