A seemingly favorable schedule combined with a key injury to an NL Central rival may be just what the St. Louis Cardinals need to gain ground in the standings.
After sparking a ninth-inning rally, Matt Holliday looks to continue his hot stretch at the plate and help the Cardinals maintain their dominance of the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
St. Louis (47-43) is third in the Central and 3-1/2 games behind first-place Cincinnati, which lost All-Star first baseman Joey Votto for at least three weeks with a knee injury Monday.
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That could present the Cardinals with a chance to close in on first place, and a series against Milwaukee (42-47) may improve their odds.
St. Louis has won 15 of 20 against the Brewers, taking last year’s NL championship series in six games. They have won eight of 10 at Miller Park, averaging 7.1 runs while batting .298 with 19 homers.
The Cardinals continued that success against the Brewers with a 3-2 victory Monday, scoring three times in the ninth off closer John Axford.
Holliday triggered the comeback with a tying two-run single and Allen Craig followed by driving in the go-ahead run after St. Louis was swept in three straight at Cincinnati over the weekend.
“We have to hit like we are capable of,” Holliday said. “We’ve got to start playing well and beating the teams in our division and playing better.”
Holliday is doing his part, hitting .439 with 12 doubles and 24 RBI in his last 25 games. The six-time All-Star has a team season-high 15-game hitting streak and is 10 for 30 with six RBI in his last seven visits to Miller Park, including three during the NLCS.
The Cardinals are scheduled to turn to Joe Kelly (1-1, 2.70 ERA), who hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his six starts since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis last month.
The rookie right-hander struggled with his command early in his most recent outing July 8 before the Cardinals rallied with three runs in the ninth to beat Miami 5-4. He threw 10 of his first 18 pitches for balls before settling down and allowing one unearned run and two hits with a season-high five walks in six innings.
Monday’s loss was another setback for the Brewers, who announced earlier in the day that Zack Greinke will skip his scheduled start Wednesday and isn’t scheduled to pitch again until July 24 at Philadelphia.
The Brewers are scheduled to give the ball to Randy Wolf (2-6, 5.80), who hasn’t won since beating San Diego on April 30. He’s 0-4 with a 5.42 ERA in 13 games – 12 starts – since that victory.
The left-hander has been particularly bad over his last four starts, compiling an 8.34 ERA while yielding seven homers in 22-2/3 innings.
Wolf’s most recent appearance came out of the bullpen July 7, when he allowed one run and three hits in two innings at Houston.
He’s won four of his last six starts against St. Louis behind a 4.15 ERA, including a road victory in Game 4 of last year’s NLCS.