Reds-Cardinals Preview

The Cincinnati Reds have not played well the last two weeks, but

taking two of three in St. Louis could give them the boost they

need.

After rallying to even this weekend’s three-game set against

their division rival, the Reds try to win consecutive road games

over the Cardinals for the first time in almost five years Sunday

night.

Plagued by a 2 hour and 10-minute rain delay Friday, Cincinnati

(11-10) fell 4-2 in the series opener. The Reds trailed by a run

Saturday when more rain halted play for 42 minutes, but they broke

out after the delay for three runs in the eighth inning en route to

a 5-3 win.

Former Cardinal Miguel Cairo hit a two-out, two-run, go-ahead

single off struggling St. Louis reliever Ryan Franklin to help snap

the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak. The Reds are now in

position to win back-to-back games at Busch Stadium for the first

since sweeping a three-game set June 5-7, 2006.

“Every win is a good win against St. Louis or against any team

in the National League,” said Cairo, who had two different stints

with the Cardinals. “You play the game to get a win.”

Cincinnati likely needs to build as much momentum as possible

with a key early divisional series at Milwaukee following this

contest.

Joey Votto added a two-run homer Saturday as the Reds improved

to 6-10 since a 5-0 start. Batting .392, the reigning NL MVP has

two homers and four RBIs in his last four games. He’s a lifetime

.328 hitter at Busch.

Votto and the Reds hope to continue Jake Westbrook’s struggles

when he takes the ball for the Cardinals (11-10) in the series

finale.

For the third time in his career and first since 2001, Westbrook

(1-2, 9.82 ERA) will pitch on three days’ rest. The right-hander

allowed seven runs in three innings of an 8-6 loss to Washington in

the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. He threw 68

pitches.

“I’m excited to get back out there again,” Westbrook told the

Cardinals’ official website. “Every time as a starter, good or bad,

you want to get back out there. You want to get back out there to

try to correct yourself and get another opportunity to get back on

track.”

Westbrook, who has 13 walks and just nine strikeouts in 18 1-3

innings this season, is 7-18 lifetime in April.

“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “It’s kind of something that I

need to figure out and do a better job on. I’m not going to give up

on anything.”

Westbrook is 1-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts versus

Cincinnati.

Teammate Albert Pujols has six of his seven homers in his last

nine games, including a solo shot Saturday. He also has 11 RBIs in

his last nine contests.

Veteran slugger Lance Berkman is 8 for 14 in his last four

games, raising his average to .368 in his first season with St.

Louis.

Though right-hander Sam LeCure (0-1, 4.15) has been scheduled to

start Sunday for Cincinnati, manager Dusty Baker could decide

instead to go with Edinson Volquez, who wound up not starting after

Friday’s rain delay.

Volquez is 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts this season, and

1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in four lifetime versus St. Louis.

LeCure allowed three runs and walked four in 5 1-3 innings of a

4-1 loss in his only previous appearance against the Cardinals on

June 2. The right-hander gave up five runs and a career-high four

homers in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 defeat to Arizona on Tuesday.