Jason Simontacchi has been everything but consistent this season.
Simontacchi, who has been used as a starter and reliever this season, is 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA over his last four starts.
Despite a masterful performance his last time out, Simontacchi was skipped in the rotation earlier this week because the Cardinals were idle Monday. He yielded one run—on a solo homer—and seven hits over seven innings of a 9-1 win over Milwaukee on June 18.
“He pitched an outstanding game,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
The outing was Simontacchi’s best since he tossed a six-hitter in a 3-1 win over Houston on May 28, the first complete game of his career.
However, Simontacchi struggled in his next two starts, allowing a combined 10 runs and 18 hits over 11 innings, before breaking out of the slide against the Brewers.
The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games to the Royals this season with Friday’s 6-3 setback.
The AL Central-leading Royals capitalized on those miscues to win their fifth straight as Carlos Beltran had two hits and two RBIs. Beltran is batting .362 (25-for-69) over his last 19 games with 14 runs and 16 RBIs.
STANDINGS: Cardinals - 1st place (tied), NL Central. Royals - 1st place, AL Central.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Simontacchi (5-4, 6.13 ERA). Simontacchi is 1-0 with 1.29 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremy Affeldt (4-3, 3.97 ERA). Affeldt earned his first victory since May 12 with Sunday’s 5-2 win over St. Louis. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Affeldt is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .390 avg., 68 RBIs and 71 runs; Edmonds, 22 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 14 SBs. Royals - Mike Sweeney, .321 avg., 12 HRs and 50 RBIs; Raul Ibanez, 45 runs; Beltran, 19 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Cardinals, 8-8. Royals, 9-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - OF J.D. Drew left Friday’s game with a sore left ankle. His status for Saturday remains uncertain. … St. Louis recalled RHP Jimmy Journell from Triple-A Memphis on Friday, adding a pitcher for their series with the Royals. To make room on the roster, the Cardinals optioned OF Kerry Robinson to Memphis. … 1B Tino Martinez is batting .366 (30-for-82) with seven doubles, six homers and 23 RBIs over his last 25 games, lifting his average from .245 to .280. Royals - Kansas City’s two-game lead in the AL Central is its largest this late in a season since 1985, when the Royals won the AL West and their only World Series. … INF Ken Harvey is riding a riding a career-high seven-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .429 (12-for-28). … The Royals are assured of their first winning season in interleague play since going 9-7 in 1998.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 16-22 on the road. Royals - 21-15 at home.
INJURIES: Cardinals - OF Drew (ankle), day-to-day; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; C Chris Widger (thumb), 15-day DL; INF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL. Royals - 1B Sweeney (back), 15-day DL; INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL.