Nationals-Cardinals Preview

After scoring at a remarkable rate for a week, the St. Louis

Cardinals suddenly fell silent in their last game.

They hope an unexpected day off can help them against a pitcher

that has routinely given them problems.

The Cardinals try to bounce back against John Lannan in the

first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Washington

Nationals on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s series opener between the teams was postponed after

heavy storms passed through the St. Louis area, causing tornado

sirens to sound.

This will be the second doubleheader in four days for the

Nationals, coming off a sweep of the Brewers at home on Sunday.

“Nobody likes playing a day-night doubleheader, but you’ve got

to do it,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

La Russa’s Cardinals got off to a sluggish start this season,

averaging 2.6 runs while batting .216 in losing six of their first

eight. The offense suddenly awoke, averaging 9.4 runs and hitting

.376 as St. Louis won six of the next seven.

That surge ended Sunday, when St. Louis (8-8) managed a

season-low four hits in having its four-game win streak snapped

with a 2-1 loss to Los Angeles. Matt Holliday scored the lone run

and hit .563 with five doubles, five RBIs and five runs in the

four-game series.

“It is a tough loss, but any time we win a series, it is a good

thing,” manager Tony La Russa said.

Albert Pujols was hitless in four at-bats Sunday after batting

.435 with three homers and six RBIs in his previous five games, and

he may also have trouble at the plate Tuesday.

The three-time NL MVP is batting .182 with no extra-base hits in

11 at-bats against Lannan (1-1, 3.38 ERA).

Lannan has a career ERA of 4.08 but has posted a 2.36 ERA in

five starts against St. Louis, surrendering two runs or fewer each

time. The left-hander has been backed by seven runs in those games,

however, leaving him with a 1-2 record.

The Cardinals are hitting .220 and Pujols is 2 for 12 against

left-handers this season.

Lannan gave up three runs and six hits in six innings in

Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Philadelphia, and he’s yielded three runs

or fewer in each of his three starts.

The Nationals split their six games against the Cardinals in

2010 after going 2-11 over the previous two seasons.

Washington (8-7) arrives in St. Louis after taking all three

games from Milwaukee.

The Nationals had 11 hits in each game Sunday, winning 8-4 and

5-1. They finished with five homers in the doubleheader after

hitting two in their previous five contests.

“It was great to get this sweep,” said leadoff hitter Danny

Espinosa, who had six RBIs in the doubleheader. “After we got the

first game, we knew in here, we were talking, ‘We need to get that

sweep. We need this game.’ And we went out there and played


Although the offense got on track, Jayson Werth is still off to

a slow start with his new team, batting .143 with a solo homer in

his last seven games.

Werth could get going at Busch Stadium, where he is hitting .364

with two homers and seven RBIs in his last six games. He has a

homer and double in his only two at-bats against scheduled game one

starter Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63).

Westbrook had a another shaky performance Wednesday against

Arizona, allowing five runs – two earned – and a season-high nine

hits in 5 1-3 innings but was bailed out in a 15-5 win.

In two starts against the Nationals, the right-hander is 1-1

with a 3.14 ERA.

Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 2.45) will take the mound for Washington

in the nightcap.

Zimmermann gave up four runs – one earned – and five hits in

seven innings of a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in two starts against

the Cardinals. He faced them once last season, allowing five runs

and seven hits in four innings of a 11-10, 13-inning win Aug.


Pujols is 4 for 5 with two homers and a double against


Unbeaten Jaime Garcia (2-0, 1.35) will oppose Zimmermann.

Garcia posted a 0.60 ERA through his first two outings. He

wasn’t as sharp Thursday, but still picked up the victory after

allowing three runs and eight hits in five innings of a 9-5 win

over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The left-hander’s only career start against Washington was a 4-2

road win Aug. 27, when he pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings,

scattering eight hits and four walks while striking out seven.