St. Louis (83-76) at Arizona (83-76)

Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 26, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals look to keep their faint playoff hopes alive as they open a season-ending three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark.

The Cardinals have won four straight, including an 8-4 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday, and are three games behind Chicago and Houston in the NL Central.

“Hopefully, it’s not over,” said Matt Morris, who earned the win Wednesday. “There’s still a chance. But now we’re resting on other people’s games, hoping they lose. And that always stinks when you can’t decide it yourself.”

The Cubs and Astros would both have to lose their remaining three games, and the Cardinals would have to win all three of theirs to force a three-way tie in the division.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to push,” said J.D. Drew, who had three hits, including a go-ahead homer, on Wednesday. “You never know what’s going to happen. It just came down to us winning and seeing what happened with those other guys. That’s basically all you could do.”

The Diamondbacks are coming in off Thursday’s 8-7 win over the Colorado Rockies—their 10th win in 14 games.

Junior Spivey drove in three runs, and Danny Bautista went 2-for-4 with a double for Arizona.

STANDINGS: Cardinals - 3rd place, 3 GB, NL Central. Diamondbacks - 3rd place, 15 GB, NL West.

CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (13-8, 5.20 ERA). Tomko gave up two earned runs and five hits in six innings against Houston last Saturday, but did not get a decision in the Cardinals’ 3-2 win. The right-hander, who has won four straight decisions and seven of eight, is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA—his best mark against any team—in seven career starts against the Diamondbacks.

DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Elmer Dessens (8-8, 5.12 ERA). Dessens gave up two earned runs and seven hits in five innings of Saturday’s 10-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers—his first victory since Aug. 21. The right-hander is 4-4 with a 4.96 ERA in 15 career appearances, including 12 starts, against the Cardinals.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .363 avg., 43 HRs, 124 RBIs and 134 runs; Edgar Renteria, 34 SBs. Diamondbacks - Luis Gonzalez, .301 avg., 26 HRs, 103 RBIs and 92 runs; Steve Finley, 15 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Diamondbacks, 2-1.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - C Mike Matheny, who has appeared in 137 games (120 starts) this season, made the 1,000th appearance of his career Wednesday. … C Matheny received a three-game suspension, manager Tony La Russa two games and pitching coach Dave Duncan one for their confrontations with umpire Jerry Crawford in Houston earlier this month. Matheny may appeal his suspension. … 1B Tino Martinez, who was hit by a pitch last weekend, returned to the lineup on Wednesday night after sitting out Tuesday. Diamondbacks - RHP Matt Mantei earned his 28th save in 31 chances Thursday. … RHP Oscar Villarreal earned his 10th win Thursday, an Arizona for relievers. … The Diamondbacks are assured of a winning season for the fifth straight year. Atlanta and San Francisco are the only other National League teams to accomplish the feat.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 35-43 on the road; Diamondbacks - 44-34 at home.

INJURIES: 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. Diamondbacks - RHP Mike Koplove (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Tomko Cin vs. E. Dessens NYM
13-9 Record 8-8
5.28 ERA 5.07
114 K 113
57 BB 57
1.52 WHIP 1.53