St. Louis took two of three games from the last-place Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. Now they welcome the Rockies, losers of 10 straight on the road and owners of the major leagues’ worst record since the All-Star break at 5-21.
The Cardinals, who beat the Reds 9-0 on Sunday, are battling Chicago and Houston for the Central lead.
“I love this time of year,” said Cardinals second baseman Fernando Vina, who had a season-high four hits Sunday. “I love the challenge, I love the pressure. I think that makes me play a little better.”
Cardinals second basemen have eight hits in the last two games, as Bo Hart had four hits in Saturday’s 13-6 win. Vina is batting .393 (11-for-28) with a .469 on-base percentage since returning from the disabled list.
St. Louis’ Albert Pujols has hit safely in his last six games, batting .428 (8-for-18) in that span. He reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances with a home run, two singles, four walks and a hit by pitch before lining out in the sixth on Sunday.
Colorado, which lost 6-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, has dropped eight straight and 13 of 14.
The Rockies are struggling offensively, scoring two runs in each of their last two games, and now may have to do without their top run producers.
Outfielder Preston Wilson left Sunday’s game because of back spasms. Wilson, the major league leader with 128 RBIs, batted twice and departed after three innings. He is day-to-day.
“It can’t get any worse, can it?” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “Maybe it can. I think we’ve hit all the levels of frustration you can hit.”
STANDINGS: Rockies - 4th place, 22 1/2 GB, NL West. Cardinals - 3rd place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Jennings (11-12, 5.13 ERA). The right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.63 ERA in his last seven starts. Jennings gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings as the Rockies lost 7-6 to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. He lost his only career start against St. Louis, allowing six runs— four earned—and 10 hits in five innings as the Rockies lost 12-6 on Sept. 19.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Danny Haren (3-5, 4.50 ERA). The rookie right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up two runs and six hits in five innings of the Cardinals’ 8-7 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday. Haren will be making his first appearance against Colorado.
SEASON SERIES: Rockies, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - Colorado has lost at least eight in a row for the eighth time in franchise history. … 1B Helton has just two extra-base hits—both home runs—in his last 14 games. Cardinals - St. Louis has won five straight home series. … LHP Lance Painter, on the 15-day disabled list with an injured left leg since late July, said Sunday he’ll be activated on Tuesday. … SS Renteria three hits in his last 24 at-bats.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 20-52 on the road; Cardinals - 42-29 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - C Bobby Estalella (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Shawn Chacon (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chin-hui Tsao (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Painter (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.