As if facing Jason Marquis on the mound isn’t difficult enough, now opponents are worrying about him at the plate.
Marquis will look to extend his career-best win streak to 10 and continue his hot hitting as the major league-leading St. Louis Cardinals begin a five-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.
Tied with Chris Carpenter and Matt Morris for the team lead with 12 wins this season, Marquis wasn’t effective in his last outing as the Cardinals suffered a 9-7 loss to his former team, the Atlanta Braves.
The right-hander was reached for season highs of six runs and 10 hits, including a career-high four homers, over five innings, but did not receive a decision. Marquis had a 2.19 ERA over his previous seven starts.
“I wanted to come in and have a good showing, but it went the other way,” said Marquis, who spent the first four years of his career going back and forth between Atlanta and Richmond, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate.
“I didn’t feel as much emotion as I thought I would. I was excited, but no more so than for any other start. That’s no excuse.”
Marquis, who had never won more than eight games before this year, is the Cardinals’ best-hitting pitcher. He is batting .321 and leads all NL pitchers with nine RBIs. Marquis was 2-for-3 with an RBI on Saturday, and has hit safely in five of his last six games.
The Cardinals failed to complete the sweep of visiting Cincinnati on Wednesday, losing 5-4 to snap a seven-game home winning streak. It was St. Louis’ third loss in 14 games overall.
Pujols leads the league with eight homers and 20 RBIs in August, and is batting .395 (15-for-39) during a nine-game hitting streak.
Pittsburgh dropped the finale of its three-game set at Arizona 6-3 on Wednesday.
Jason Bay hit his 17th home run for the Pirates, who had won four in a row and eight of 10.
Pittsburgh fell 7 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL wild card.
The Cardinals and Pirates are playing a five-game set because their meeting on May 25 was rained out. It will be made up during the first game of a split doubleheader Friday.