With three teams battling for the NL Central title, the St. Louis Cardinals need every win they can get. In other words, there’s no way they can afford another loss at home to the league’s worst road team.
After falling 8-1 on Tuesday, the Cardinals will look to bounce back when they meet the Colorado Rockies in the middle game of their series at Busch Stadium.
With 17 games remaining, the Cardinals are 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros in the divisional race. They are five games behind the Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins in the wild-card race.
St. Louis has lost four of its last six, with manager Tony La Russa particularly annoyed after Tuesday’s loss.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I know they’ve been struggling on the road, but they looked like the club that was playing for something and we looked like the club that wasn’t (going) at it as hard. It’s a team loss.”
Colorado had lost 10 in a row on the road and eight straight overall. The Rockies’ 21-52 road record is only better than woeful Detroit’s 18-55 mark.
“We’re waiting to see how the Tigers did,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle joked. “We might have gained a game on them.”
STANDINGS: Rockies - 4th place, 22 1/2 GB, NL West. Cardinals - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Scott Elarton (3-3, 6.63 ERA). After a stint at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Elarton returns to the rotation to replace the disappointing Denny Stark. Since his recall earlier this month, Elarton has pitched just one scoreless inning of relief. The 27-year-old right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 career games against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (11-8, 5.58 ERA). Tomko had won two straight before falling apart against the Cubs on Thursday. He allowed six runs—five earned—and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings, but did not get a decision in the Cardinals’ 7-6 loss. The 30-year-old right-hander is 2-4 with a 3.91 ERA in eight career games against the Rockies.
SEASON SERIES: Rockies, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - Despite continued back spasms, CF Wilson returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Dodgers. … The Rockies are 1-65 when trailing after eight innings. … RF Larry Walker is 8-for-16 with six RBIs in his career against RHP Tomko. Cardinals - SS Renteria is 2-for-14 (.143) in his career against RHP Elarton. … 1B Tino Martinez needs two homers to reach 300 for his career. … LHP Lance Painter came in for one pitch Tuesday, allowing a leadoff double to 1B Helton in the eighth. It was his first appearance since he strained his left calf on July 27.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 21-52 on the road; Cardinals - 42-30 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; RHP Jimmy Journell (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.