The Cardinals, who were predicted by many to finish behind Chicago and Houston in the NL Central race, have instead pulled away to a 10 1/2 -game lead over the second-place Cubs. The Astros are a distant 14 1/2 games back in third.
St. Louis is coming off a three-game sweep in Cincinnati, including Wednesday’s 11-10 victory. Scott Rolen hit two of the Cardinals’ four homers as St. Louis barely held off the slumping Reds in the longest nine-inning game for either team this season (3 hours, 53 minutes).
“This game was no fun,” said Rolen, who also doubled twice in a 4-for-6 showing. “There was too much going on. I’m going to forget about it when I fall asleep on that plane.”
Jim Edmonds homered in all three games of the sweep for the Cardinals, who have gone 42-14 since May 27.
St. Louis boasts a major league-best 34-16 road mark, and will be looking to avenge last week’s series at Busch Stadium, where it lost two of three to San Francisco. The Cardinals averted the sweep with a 6-0 victory Sunday that began their current win streak.
The Giants return home after winning just three of seven on their road trip.
Barry Bonds belted his 684th career homer Thursday, but San Francisco dropped a 7-4 decision in San Diego to slip 4 1/2 games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West.
Bonds became the 15th player in major league history to reach 1,800 RBIs. He has 1,801, leaving him 12 behind Frank Robinson for 14th place.