Cardinals-Diamondbacks Preview

(AP) — After enduring a bit of a slump, the St. Louis Cardinals appear to have it going again at the plate.

Coming off another big offensive effort, the Cardinals look for a fourth straight victory to complete their first road sweep of the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks in eight years Wednesday night.

St. Louis (19-11) has totaled 23 runs and 32 hits during its current three-game winning streak that followed a season-high three-game skid during which the NL Central leaders were held to nine and 22, respectively.

After scoring three times in the first inning of a 9-6 series-opening win Monday, the Cardinals totaled all of their runs in the first two frames of Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Arizona. For the first time since 1986, St. Louis has scored in the first inning of eight straight contests.

The Cardinals, whose 167 runs rank among the most in the majors, last swept a series in Arizona from April 9-11, 2004.

Carlos Beltran was responsible for all the scoring Tuesday, hitting a two-homer in the first and adding a grand slam in second. A lifetime .363 hitter with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs against the Diamondbacks, Beltran has three homers in the series, and is 6 for 16 with eight RBIs in his last four games.

“It’s confidence, it’s results, it’s a little bit of everything,” Beltran said. “I’m just going through good times. In this game, you go through ups and downs.”

After starters Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook held the Diamondbacks (14-17) scoreless over 12 innings of the first two games, Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.11 ERA) looks to rebound from his worst outing of the season in the finale. The right-hander allowed five runs – three earned – and seven hits in a season-low five innings of a 5-4 loss at Houston on Friday.

“I didn’t think I had too bad of control,” said Lohse, who yielded three earned runs in his first five starts but six in the last two. “It was one of those things where you are out there grinding, feel like you are hitting your spots, and you keep running full counts and 2-2 counts.”

Lohse has not had it easy versus Arizona – going 2-2 with a 5.36 ERA in eight starts. He’s 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in five outings at Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks, however, are looking to avoid matching a season-high fifth consecutive defeat. Arizona has been held to one run three times while losing seven of 11 overall.

“We haven’t played the way we’re capable of recently,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “You can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves because we haven’t been as successful as we wanted to be. We have to keep it in perspective.”

Aaron Hill had three of the team’s six hits and Miguel Montero drove in the lone run in the ninth Tuesday as the reigning NL West champions dropped their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games at Chase Field.

Arizona’s Wade Miley (3-0, 2.33) makes his fourth straight start in place of the injured Daniel Hudson and faces the Cardinals for the first time. The left-hander had allowed one run in 12 1-3 innings while winning his first two starts, but gave up four in six innings of a 5-4 win at New York on Friday.

It’s uncertain if Miley will face St. Louis star catcher Yadier Molina, who left in the ninth Tuesday after he was hit on the back of his gloved hand trying to grab a pitch.

Preliminary X-rays were negative.