Woody Williams feels he may be regaining the form that made him one of baseball’s best starters over the season’s first two months.
On Sunday, Williams limited the Chicago Cubs to one run and six hits through 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 win. He struck out six and walked none.
The 36-year-old right-hander had allowed at least five earned runs in four of his previous five starts. Williams started the season by going 7-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his first 10 starts.
Hoping that he has found that early season form, Williams will try to help the Cardinals snap a four-game losing streak. St. Louis was swept in consecutive two-game series by the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, falling two games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the National League Central.
With Thursday’s 9-4 loss to the Dodgers, the Cardinals fell to one game above .500 for the first time since June 1. Manager Tony La Russa was disgusted with his team afterward.
“That’s one of the poorest games we’ve played all year,” said La Russa, whose team has lost eight of 11. “We did so many things wrong. We’re capable of playing so much better.”
While the Cardinals struggle, the Padres head toward the All-Star break during their best stretch of the season.
San Diego has won nine of 12, including a 14-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. Sean Burroughs hit a three-run homer, doubled twice and scored three runs to lead the rout, and the Padres’ 14 runs were a season high.
“Our wins, usually they’re tight ballgames,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re not the type of team to bang out a lot of runs. But tonight we did. Things went our way, and hitting got contagious there.”
STANDINGS: Padres - 5th place, 21 GB, NL West. Cardinals - 2nd place (tied), 2 GB, NL Central.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Brian Lawrence (5-9, 4.48 ERA). Lawrence has pitched very well in his past two starts, allowing just two earned runs in 13 innings. On Sunday, he gave up two runs—one earned—and six hits through seven innings, but he did not get the decision in the Padres’ 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three career games against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Williams (11-3, 3.06 ERA). In two career games against San Diego, where Williams pitched for parts of three seasons before getting traded to St. Louis in 2001, he is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Mark Loretta, .318 avg.; Ryan Klesko, 19 HRs; Klesko and Rondell White, 52 RBIs; Loretta and White, 41 runs; Gary Matthews Jr., Ramon Vazquez and Shane Victorino, 7 SBs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .365 avg., 82 RBIs and 79 runs; Jim Edmonds, 27 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 23 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 5-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - CF Mark Kotsay is batting .118 (2-for-17) in his career against RHP Williams. … 3B Burroughs has reached base in 14 consecutive games. … 1B Klesko has missed three straight games with a respiratory illness. Cardinals - CF Edmonds is 5-for-9 (.556) in his career against RHP Lawrence. … LHP Jeff Fassero has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 13 1-3 innings. … LF Pujols and 1B Tino Martinez both stole their first bases of the season on Thursday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 17-29 on the road; Cardinals - 26-20 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - IF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Phil Nevin (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; IF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; IF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.