With their playoff hopes fading quickly, the Cardinals hope the right-hander can end his personal slump as they complete a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.
Losers of five of seven, the Cardinals are coming in off Wednesday’s 7-6 loss, which dropped them five games behind Houston in the NL Central race.
Williams may have a team-high 15 wins, but he is just 1-5 in his last nine starts and 3-6 with a 6.41 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break. He went into the break 12-3 with a 3.01 ERA.
However, Williams is 11-3 with a 3.18 ERA at Busch Stadium this season. The Cardinals have won his last four home starts dating to a 4-0 loss to Florida on Aug. 5.
Williams, in his 11th season, can set a career high with his 16th win Thursday, an opportunity he missed when he lost 14-5 at Houston on Friday. He allowed nine runs—eight earned—and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings. He also walked three in his shortest outing of the season, as his ERA jumped from 3.84 to 4.13.
The Brewers rallied from a two-run deficit in the ninth Wednesday to snap their four-game losing streak. Pinch-hitter Brooks Kieschnick tied the game with a two-run homer, and Jason Conti added a go-ahead single.
Conti finished with a career-high five RBIs.
Milwaukee, which had lost the previous five meetings between the teams, defeated St. Louis for only the third time in 13 games this season.
STANDINGS: Brewers - 5th place (tied), 18 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 3rd place, 5 GB, NL Central.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Kinney (10-11, 4.90 ERA). After winning three straight starts, Kinney has lost his last two, including an 8-2 decision at San Francisco on Friday. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits over six innings, while walking three and striking out five. Kinney, who has given up at least four runs in four of his last five starts, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Williams (15-9, 4.13 ERA). Williams is 7-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 20 career appearances, including 11 starts, against the Brewers. In his only meeting with them this season, he pitched 6 2-3 innings of two-hit ball in a 7-0 home victory on April 2.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Scott Podsednik, .317 avg., 93 runs and 42 SBs; Richie Sexson, 40 HRs and 114 RBIs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .367 avg., 42 HRs, 123 RBIs and 129 runs; Edgar Renteria, 33 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 10-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - The Brewers’ pitching staff has allowed a major league-high 2-3 home runs. The Cardinals are second, having allowed 201. … 1B Sexson is 5-for-20 (.250) against RHP Williams with a homer and five RBIs. … CF Podsednik is 6-for-14 (.429) with five RBIs in his last four games. Cardinals - The Cardinals are 39-19 in RHP Williams’ starts since acquiring him from San Diego in 2001. … 2B Fernando Vina returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after sitting out two games with a sore Achilles’ tendon. He went 1-for-5. … C Chris Widger has an eight-game hitting streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 35-41 on the road; Cardinals - 45-32 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - OF Geoff Jenkins (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Ford (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Ruben Quevedo (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (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.