Jim Edmonds is hitting his way into MVP consideration.
Edmonds has hit seven home runs over his last six games, including two in a 9-3 rout of the Padres in the series opener. In his last six games, Edmonds has 13 RBIs. He’s two shy of giving the Cardinals three 100-RBI men in the lineup, along with Rolen (113) and Pujols (103).
“You know what? We wouldn’t be here without any of them,” St. Louis outfielder Reggie Sanders said of the dynamic trio. “So I’d vote for all three of them—tied for first.”
Edmonds, who has 38 homers this season, said he is just trying to enjoy his recent success.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” said Edmonds, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs Tuesday. “I definitely didn’t expect to hit two home runs tonight, but it’s just one of those things.”
Pujols and Edgar Renteria each homered and had three hits for the NL Central leaders, who reduced their magic number for clinching the division title to 16.
As the Cardinals try to win their fifth straight game, they’ll look for another strong start from Chris Carpenter.
Despite pitching one of his best games of the season Thursday, Carpenter saw his four-decision winning streak end. The 29-year-old right-hander pitched a three-hitter in a 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He struck out a season-high 11 for his first double-digit strikeout game of the season.
“I pitched good tonight,” he said. “But we need to win. That’s basically all I care about. Am I happy that I felt good and went out and pitched well? Yeah. But we came up one run short.”
They’ll look for Adam Eaton to help them keep pace.
Eaton had one of his strongest starts of the season Thursday, allowing two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 10-3 win over the New York Mets. He retired 19 of the final 21 batters he faced.
“They didn’t penalize my mistakes,” Eaton said. “Mistakes are part of pitching. There isn’t a pitcher who doesn’t make them. I missed my spots a couple of time but I missed in better places.”
After surrendering a season-high 11 hits in his previous start—an 8-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on Aug. 21—Eaton quickly found his groove against the Mets.
“He threw great, just outstanding,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “He had all his pitches going. He was on top of his game. He bounced back well. He’s a front-line starter with great stuff. His stuff can be electric. He throws 93, 94 mph with a cutter and a change. He should be successful.”
STANDINGS (through Aug. 30): Padres - 2nd place, 5 GB, NL West. Cardinals - 1st place, NL Central.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Eaton (9-11, 4.72 ERA). Eaton is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Carpenter (13-5, 3.61 ERA). Carpenter has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his previous four starts. He has never faced the Padres.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Mark Loretta, .343 avg. and 93 runs; Phil Nevin, 19 HRs and 83 RBIs; Brian Giles, 8 SBs. Cardinals - Pujols, .327 avg., 41 HRs and 113 runs; Rolen, 113 RBIs; Tony Womack, 20 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Cardinals, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - C Ramon Hernandez is batting .154 (2-for-13) in his career against RHP Carpenter. … 1B Phil Nevin was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday, ending a 10-game road hitting streak. … 2B Loretta is batting .346 (9-for-26) during a six-game hitting streak. Cardinals - The Cardinals will active LHP Rick Ankiel from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. He has not pitched this season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery. … RF Larry Walker is batting .053 (1-for-19) in his career against RHP Eaton. … The Cardinals were 21-7 in August after going 21-5 in July.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 38-27 on the road; Cardinals - 43-23 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - C Miguel Ojeda (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Sterling Hitchcock (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Antonio Osuna (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jay Witasick (oblique), 15-day DL. Cardinals - OF Ray Lankford (wrist), RHP Kiko Calero (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Steve Kline (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (elbow), 60-day DL.