If history is any indication, the St. Louis Cardinals’ record bodes well for their playoff hopes.
The Cardinals are 40 games above .500 for the first time since their last World Series appearance, and hope to continue their torrid play when they open a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
After a 6-2 homestand, the Cardinals are 40 games above .500 for the first time since the last game of their pennant-winning season in 1985, when they finished 101-61. St. Louis has won eight straight series and 14 of the last 15 heading into an off-day Monday that ends a stretch of 14 games in 13 days.
“It means we’re really good,” Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker said.
St. Louis finished 41 games above .500 in 1967, when it last won the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games.
With Jason Marquis taking the mound and boasting the league’s best road mark at 40-19, the Cardinals’ chances of improving their record look good. The right-hander has won his last nine decisions, posting a 3.68 ERA in 14 starts. His last loss was on May 26, when he gave up six runs in four innings against the Pirates.
Edgar Renteria capped a 13-pitch at-bat in the first inning with a three-run homer off Ryan Vogelsong and matched his career high with five RBIs, leading the way in an 11-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Renteria was 9-for-18 in the series and had nine RBIs in an eight-game homestand.
Larry Walker hit a grand slam, the seventh of his career and second in five days, in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach for the. He’s batting .304 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 13 walks in 14 games with the Cardinals.
Cincinnati has won three of its last four after losing four of five.
Strong pitching has allowed the Reds to bounce back from their skid.
Brandon Claussen allowed one run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings Sunday, snapping a personal three-game losing streak. He walked one and struck out three, following strong starts by Josh Hancock, Luke Hudson and Aaron Harang.
“All of them have gone out there and worked hard and they’ve been able to string some quality starts together,” Reds manager Dave Miley said. “Sometimes it’s contagious.”
Cincinnati plays 20 of its next 26 at home.