Already one of the best pitchers in the majors, Matt Morris is even better in interleague play.
The 28-year-old right-hander looks to win his fifth straight decision against American League opponents when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of their three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Morris improved to 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA over his last four starts with Tuesday’s 11-5 win over Toronto. He allowed four runs and nine hits over seven innings, striking out four without issuing a walk.
Morris, who is 4-0 since last season in interleague play, admits he pays special attention to unfamiliar opponents.
“You go out with your game plan and you try to execute and you don’t know too much about the other team,” said Morris, 7-3 in his career during interleague play. “You just try and get wins.”
The Cardinals’ five-game win streak was snapped with Saturday’s 8-1 loss.
Deivi Cruz homered twice and Sidney Ponson pitched his second complete game in three starts, helping the Orioles snap a four-game skid. Melvin Mora and Jeff Conine combined for five hits, including two homers, and five RBIs.
“It helps having a guy like Sidney on the mound,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. “Everybody likes to have a stopper and Sidney has kind of become ours. Hopefully, that continues.”
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 5 1/2 GB, AL East. Cardinals - 3rd place, 2 GB, NL Central.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Johnson (5-2, 3.63 ERA). Johnson opened the season 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA over his first five starts but is 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA over his last six outings. The right-hander didn’t figure into the decision of Baltimore’s 11-6 loss to Houston on Tuesday, allowing five runs—four earned—and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings. He makes his first career start against St. Louis.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Morris (7-3, 2.57 ERA). Morris has limited opponents to a .226 batting average and a .271 on-base percentage, while striking out 74 and walking 22 over 98 innings this season. He makes his first career start against Baltimore
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Mora, .362 avg. and 39 runs; Conine 44 RBIs; Mora, Jay Gibbons and Tony Batista, 9 HRs Jerry Hairston Jr., 14 SBs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .388 avg., 16 HRs, 50 RBIs and 51 runs; Edgar Renteria, 8 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Orioles - 1-4; Cardinals - 4-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - Since being recalled from Triple-A Ottawa on May 23, OF Luis Matos has hit safely in all 13 games in which he has played, batting .444 (24-for-44). … Baltimore is 14-3 when its starting pitchers toss seven innings or more. … The Orioles have reached double figures in hits in 15 of their last 18 games and have scored six or more runs 12 times in that span. Cardinals - OF Pujols doubled to stretch his streak of reaching base to nine consecutive plate appearances (eight hits, one walk) and his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .606 (20-for-33) with two homers, six runs and 10 RBIs during the run. … 3B Scott Rolen is two hits shy of 1,000 for his career. … With another error Saturday, the Cardinals have committed nine miscues in their last 12 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 15-17 on the road; Cardinals - 21-12 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - 2B Hairston (leg), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Lopez (oblique), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Isringhausen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL; C Joe Girardi (back), 60-day DL.